SNCF spectacularly recovered its accounts in 2022 thanks to the return of travelers to its trains and the dynamics of logistics, with a record net profit, multiplied by 2.7 to 2.425 billion euros, according to figures published Thursday. “All activities earn money,” CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou welcomed reporters. “This money will be used 100% to prepare for the group’s future by financing its development, investing in the national rail network and reducing the debt burden,” he added.
Heavy losses on the sidelines of Covid-19
The SNCF had lost 3 billion euros in 2020 due to the pandemic, and 801 million in 2019 due to the strike against the pension reform and unfavorable accounting effects. Very affected by Covid-19, the SNCF came out of the red in 2021 but only thanks to the sale of the wagon rental company Ermewa which had enabled it to post a net profit of 890 million euros; without this exceptional product, it would have posted a loss of 185 million euros.
For the financial director Laurent Trevisani, the 2022 results are “solid”. Excluding exceptional items – in particular the sale of its stake in the locomotive rental company Akiem -, the profit amounted to 2.1 billion euros, according to him. The turnover of the public group reached unprecedented levels at 41.45 billion euros in 2022 – of which 37% was achieved internationally – against 34.75 billion in 2021 (+19%) and 35.12 billion in 2019 before the health crisis (+18%).
Geodis, the “second economic lung of the group”
This rebound in activity is due to the impressive growth of its logistics entity Geodis – qualified by the management as “the group’s second economic lifeblood” – and the recovery of TGV traffic, now higher than its pre-crisis levels. . In detail, the turnover of SNCF Voyageurs – the company that runs the trains, TGV, TER and Parisian suburbs – increased by 26.7% (at constant scope, accounting standards and exchange rates) to 17, 38 billion euros and that of Geodis by 19.2% to 13.72 billion.
SNCF Voyageurs is now 3.4% above its 2019 level, before the pandemic, while Geodis has grown by 67.6% in three years. The turnover of the TGV-Intercités branch remains however 3% lower than before the crisis despite record attendance, a consequence of the rise of the low-cost TGV Ouigo and the effects of discount cards.
“The financial structure is healthy”
The gross margin (Ebitda) has returned to its 2019 level at 16% of turnover, a performance that Laurent Trevisani considers “satisfactory”. Rail freight, long in deficit, is even making money. The debt was reduced from 36.30 to 24.44 billion euros during the year 2022, including 10 billion taken over by the State on January 1. In accordance with the commitments made to the government when adopting the 2018 railway reform, free cash flow is now positive.
“The fundamentals are solid. (…) The financial structure is healthy. (…) We no longer need to sell assets to get out of debt”, underlines Laurent Trevisani. “We will do everything to confirm this trajectory” this year, even if it “looks more uncertain” between soaring energy prices, inflationary pressure and economic depression, he adds.