"2022 was a remarkable year for the shipping industry."
A record year
As I reflect at the end of my first year as Chair, various observations spring to mind as to what makes Clarksons such an exceptional business. First is the quality, energy and focus of all of our employees worldwide, without whom the record results for 2022 we have delivered would not have been possible. Second is our culture and values, which underpin the way we operate and behave and which are reflected in our many strong and enduring client relationships. Finally, and crucially, is our relentless focus on investing in the future of our Company, be that through, for example, the green transition, our continued investment in Sea/ and the training of our people to ensure best-in-class service to our clients.
2022 was a remarkable year for the shipping industry driven by a number of significant “x” factors. As countries were at differing stages of recovery from COVID-19 and China experienced a second lockdown, congestion and disruption were already the key issues in shipping. Then Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused another wave of wide-reaching consequences, including sanctions and significant changes in both commodity flow and availability, issues not just for shipping but for the wider economy as well. The energy and cost of living crises, combined with inflation and higher interest rates, added further challenges to the global economy, and to the asset-heavy shipping industry.
Against this backdrop, the Group continued to thrive, a testament to both the strategy and the teams within Clarksons. The decarbonisation journey, which is both complex and important for shipping, is now well underway but will take time to complete. Transition will require a number of different solutions, significant investment and the provision of finance to the industry. Clarksons is focused on ensuring we can add value within this process.
We believe our long-term strategic commitment to continuing to invest in our teams, products and services will continue to reap dividends as the market evolves. In addition to extending the depth and breadth of our broking teams, we continue to invest in high-quality data within Clarksons Research, Sea/ – our maritime technology platform, Support covering ports services and supplies, and the Financial division sourcing financing across shipping, offshore, renewables and real estate.
"We believe our long-term strategic commitment to continuing to invest in our teams, products and services will continue to reap dividends as the market evolves."
I am delighted to report that underlying profit before taxation (classed as an APM*) was £100.9m (2021: £69.4m) with underlying basic earnings per share (classed as an APM*) of 250.3p (2021: 165.6p). Reported profit before taxation was £100.1m (2021: £69.1m) with reported basic earnings per share of 247.9p (2021: 164.6p).
Free cash resources (classed as an APM*) as at 31 December 2022 were £130.9m (2021: £92.3m).
We are extremely proud to confirm that this will be our 20th consecutive year of dividend increases. The Board is recommending a final dividend for 2022 of 64p (2021: 57p). Combined with the interim dividend in respect of 2022 of 29p (2021: 27p), the resulting full year dividend in respect of 2022 results is 93p (2021: 84p). The dividend will be payable on 26 May 2023 to shareholders on the register on 12 May 2023, subject to shareholder approval.
I was delighted to take up the role of Chair on 2 March 2022 and I greatly appreciate the generosity of my colleagues, who have committed significant time and energy to immerse me in all aspects of Clarksons’ business. I have been hugely impressed by the energy, agility and future-focused strategic activity across all departments.
The enthusiasm and commitment to co-ordinated support of our clients across all sectors and at all levels is what I believe makes Clarksons so highly regarded by clients looking for market-leading intelligence and insights across the industry. Our continued focus is on expanding our global footprint and service offering, and adding to what is the very best talent in the sector across all divisions. I thank all our colleagues for their exceptional efforts this year.
It is of the utmost importance to us that Clarksons is a force for good across our global community, and we ensure that both our colleagues and the communities we are part of around the world are valued, respected and supported. To that end, this year we have extended the activities of our Green Transition team in every area of the business, helping our clients to reduce the impact of shipping on the environment, and reinforced our commitment to the activities of The Clarkson Foundation to create positive change for those in need around the world. The Clarkson Foundation has, for example, made a tangible difference by donating to charities that provided clean water facilities and hygiene education to five schools in Kenya and funded hot meals over the Christmas period to some experiencing homelessness in London.
Peter Backhouse retired from the Board this year following the completion of his nine-year tenure as an independent Non-Executive Director. I would like to thank Peter for his outstanding service to Clarksons. His perspective, insights and counsel have been greatly valued as Clarksons has steered a successful course through a period of considerable volatility, and we wish him the very best for the future.
"We start 2023 confident in the outlook for Clarksons."
We start 2023 confident in the outlook for Clarksons. The successful execution of our long-term strategy to be best-in-class across all segments of shipping, offshore and renewables means that we are optimally positioned for what we believe will be a sustained period of growth in the industry.
Whilst there are considerable uncertainties in the geo-political landscape, we are confident that supply-side constraints brought about by years of underinvestment and the pressure on shipowners and charterers to decarbonise, will provide significant opportunities for Clarksons long into the future.
We will continue our strategy of investing in the best people and opportunities across the globe to ensure that we remain at the very forefront of the industry, delivering growth for all stakeholders.
Finally, I would like to thank every employee in every office of the Group for their commitment and hard work during the past year. It is truly appreciated.
3 March 2023