It should be noted that this result includes the benefit of a favorable accounting adjustment of 26 million euro related to the cost of pension plans in the United Kingdom. As a result of new regulations, the Group elected in October 2011 to replace the Retail Price Index (RPI) with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the calculation of pension obligations to certain beneficiaries of its retirement plan.

Excluding this favorable accounting adjustment, the Group's operating profit was 958 million euro, an increase of + 12.3% compared to the previous year, or +  10.6% at constant exchange rates.

This increase is a result of:
  • a more significant contribution to operating profit from On-site Services activities in the emerging markets, mainly resulting from the acquisition of Puras do Brasil in Brazil
  • a very good performance by Benefits and Rewards Services, reflecting higher volumesand productivity improvements
  • the favorable impact in the UK of two major sporting events during the year(the 2011 Rugby World Cup and the 2012 Olympics)
  • on site productivity gains in North America.

These good performances more than offset the decline in operating profit in Continental Europe resulting from the current economic environment.

Excluding the favorable accounting adjustment for UK pensions, the Group’s consolidated operating margin was 5.3%, a level similar to that of the previous year.

Increase in net income and earnings per share
  • Group net income was 525 million euro compared with 451 million euro for the previous year. The + 16.4% increase, or + 14% excluding currency effects, was slightly higher than the increase in operating profit, primarily as a result of the lower effective tax rate. This decrease in the tax rate is explained by the greater weight in the results from activities in countries with lower tax rates.
  • Earnings per share was 3.48 euro, an increase of +  18%, or + 15.3% at constant rates. The increase is slightly higher than net income as a result of an increase in the number of treasury shares, which are excluded from the calculation of earnings per share.

Dividend

The Sodexo Board of Directors will propose a dividend of €1.59 per share, an increase of +  8.9% over the previous year, at the January 21, 2013 Shareholders’ Meeting. This represents a payout ratio of approximately 50%.

A major strength: a solid, cash-generating financial model

Net cash provided by operating activities amounted to more than 1 billion euro, compared to 847 million euro generated in Fiscal 2011. This significant improvement is mainly a result of the increase in operating profit.

This net cash provided by operating activities was utilized to finance:
  • net operating investments and client investments of 319 million euro, or 1.7% of revenues
  • acquisitions totaling 586 million euro, primarily involving the companies Puras do Brasil in Brazil, Lenôtre in France and Roth Bros in the United States.

As of August 31, 2012, net debt was 639 million euro and represented 21% of Group equity compared with 15% as of August 31, 2011. Gross debt represented only about 2.8 years of operating cash flow (compared to 3.2 years at the end of the previous year).