Waste and water company Suez reported that it exceeded targets for 2018, with revenue up by 11.9% and earnings by 11.5%, before interest and tax.
The company reported organic revenue growth up 6.7%, and forecast for 2019 that it would see organic revenue growth of 2-3% and in earnings of 4-5%.
Its Recycling and Recovery Europe division saw revenue increase by 2.7% – equivalent to £141.7m – to €6.2bn (£5.3bn) driven by higher volumes of treated waste.
But the company said growth slowed due to lower recycled raw materials prices, particularly for paper and cardboard, “in light of China’s decision to significantly reduce its imports”.
Chief executive Jean-Louis Chaussade said: “The group had a strong year in 2018, exceeding the revenue, [earnings] and free cash flow targets set at the beginning of the year.
“Suez’s profitability also improved in 2018, despite headwinds from the sharp drop in the price of certain recycled raw materials and the rise in oil prices.”
Organic growth in the UK and Scandinavia region was 0.6% to around £959m, with higher industrial & commercial activity offset by negative factors that included the closure of the Tilbury treatment site in 2017.
Suez highlighted a contract award in the UK of £58.4m by Devon County Council for a transfer centre and 10 years of processing, and preferred status in Greater Manchester for treating its 10 million tonnes a year of waste.
The annual report detailed waste disposal rates in each country in which Suez operates. This showed that in the UK, 27% was recycled, 17% composted, 36% incinerated and 19% landfilled.
Germany was the best performer at 49% recycling and Greece the worst on 14%.
In July 2018, Suez’s half-year results showed a fall in revenue at its UK recycling and recovery operations from around £404m to £383m, despite overall growth in profits of 5.3%.
New chief executive Bertrand Camus, currently vice-president for Africa, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, takes office after its annual general meeting in May with incumbent Chaussade becoming chairman.