"All activities earn money," said Jean-Pierre Farandou on Thursday. In front of the press, the CEO of the SNCF announced that the company had spectacularly recovered its accounts in 2022 thanks to the return of passengers in 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. "This money will be used 100% to prepare the future of the group by financing its development, investing in the national rail network and reducing the debt burden," added Jean-Pierre Farandou.
For CFO Laurent Trevisani, 2022 results are "solid". Excluding exceptional items - including the sale of its stake in the locomotive leasing company Akiem - the profit amounted to 2.1 billion euros, according to him. The public group's turnover reached unprecedented levels of €41.45 billion in 2022 – 37% of which was generated internationally – compared to €34.75 billion in 2021 (+19%) and €35.12 billion in 2019 before the health crisis (+18%).
"The financial structure is sound"
This rebound in activity is due to the impressive growth of its logistics entity Geodis - described by management as the "second economic lung of the group" - and the recovery of TGV traffic, now above its pre-crisis levels.
In detail, the turnover of SNCF Voyageurs - the company that runs trains, TGV, TER and Paris suburbs - increased by 26.7% (at constant scope, accounting standard 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.
However, the turnover of the TGV-Intercités branch remains 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. Gross margin (EBITDA) returned to its 16 level at 2019% of revenue, a performance that Trevisani considers "satisfactory". Rail freight, long loss-making, is even making money.
Recall that the SNCF had lost three 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, SNCF was out of the red in 2021 but only thanks to the sale of the wagon rental company Ermewa which had allowed it to post a net profit of 890 million euros; Without this exceptional product, it would have posted a loss of €185 million.
Our file on the SNCF
The debt has been reduced from 36.30 to 24.44 billion euros during the year 2022, including ten billion taken over by the State on 1 January. In line with the commitments made to the government when adopting the 2018 railway reform, free cash flow is now positive.