4.3 Forecast report
Expectations for the economy
In its global economic outlook published in January 2022, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) updated its forecasts for the development of the global economies in 2022 and 2023. The IMF now expects the global economy to continue its recovery in the current and following year – albeit at a slower pace than in 2021. In its global economic outlook, the Fund forecasts global growth of 4.4% and 3.8% for the years 2022 and 2023 – following an increase of 5.9% in 2021.
The IMF is thus more pessimistic than in its outlook of October 2021. Although the direct impact of the Omicron wave is still limited, the IMF believes that the consequences of the corona crisis, such as fragile supply chains, high inflation and record debt, are still weighing on the global economy and dampening its recovery. Against this backdrop, the IMF has now downgraded its economic outlook. It forecasts that the global economy will grow by 0.5 percentage points less in 2022 than it had assumed in October.
The latest IMF forecasts for United Internet’s target markets in North America (the USA, Canada, and Mexico) are as follows: the US economy is expected to grow by 4.0% in 2022 and 2.6% in 2023 (after 5.6% in 2021); in Canada, economic growth of 4.1% and 2.8% is anticipated in 2022 and 2023 (after 4.7% in 2021); and the economy in Mexico is also expected to grow, by 2.8% in 2022 and 2.7% in 2023 (after 5.3% in 2021).
The IMF anticipates growth of 3.9% and 2.5% in the eurozone for 2022 and 2023 (after 5.2% in 2021).
The IMF also expects positive economic trends in United Internet’s main European markets (France, Spain, Italy, and the non-EU country UK): the Fund forecasts growth of 3.5% in 2022 and 1.8% in 2023 for France (after 6.7% in 2021); growth in Spain is expected to reach 5.8% and 3.8% in 2022 and 2023 (after 4.9% in 2021); growth of 3.8% and 2.2% is forecast for Italy in 2022 and 2023 (after 6.2% in 2021); and for the UK, the IMF anticipates growth in 2022 and 2023 of 4.7% and 2.3% (after 7.2% in 2021).
For United Internet’s most important market, Germany, the IMF forecasts economic growth of 3.8% in 2022 and 2.5% in 2023 (after 2.7% in 2021). With expected growth of 3.8% for 2022, the Fund is above the German government’s own forecast of 3.6% growth in price-adjusted GDP, as published in its Annual Economic Report 2022 on January 26, 2022 – after forecasting 4.1% in fall 2021. The reason for these lowered expectations are the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated supply bottlenecks. These shortages, especially for intermediate goods such as semiconductors, continue to be a main reason for higher prices. The German government does not expect a gradual easing of the situation until later in 2022. Overall, consumer prices are expected to rise again significantly this year, by an annual average of 3.3% (2021: 3.1%).
Market forecast: GDP development of most important economies for United Internet
Source: International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook (Update), January 2022
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, supply bottlenecks, inflation and the shortage of skilled workers, the industry association Bitkom expects the German ICT market as a whole to grow by 3.6% (prior year: 3.9%) to € 184.9 billion in 2022.
As in the previous year, the IT market is expected to grow at an above-average rate in 2022 and will continue to strengthen its importance as the largest segment of the industry. Sales exceeded the 100 billion-euro-mark for the first time in 2021 and Bitkom expects further growth of 5.9% (prior year: 6.3%) to € 108.6 billion this year. Driven in particular by its cloud business, software is likely to be the fastest-growing segment with a strong increase of 9.0% (prior year: 8.0%) to € 32.4 billion. Sales of IT hardware are also expected to increase significantly by 5.7% (prior year: 8.3%) to € 33.2 billion. Stable growth of 3.9% (prior year: 3.7%) to € 43.0 billion is expected for the IT services business, which also includes IT consulting.
By contrast, the consumer electronics market remains under pressure. According to a Bitkom forecast, sales will decline again in 2022 after rising temporarily in 2020 due to special corona-related effects. This smallest ICT sub-market is expected to shrink by 2.3% to € 9.0 billion.
The most important ICT markets for United Internet’s business model are the German telecommunications market (broadband connections and mobile internet) for its mostly subscription-financed Access division, and the global cloud computing and German online advertising markets for its subscription- and ad-financed Applications division.
Telecommunications market in Germany
The industry association Bitkom expects that the moderate growth of the previous year will continue for the German telecommunications market. Total sales are likely to grow by 0.9% (prior year: 1.2%) to € 67.3 billion in 2022.
According to Bitkom calculations, revenues from telecommunication services are expected to increase by 1.7% (prior year: 1.7%) to € 49.2 billion. Sales of user devices, and especially smartphones, are likely to fall significantly by -3.1% (prior year: 0.2%) to € 11.2 billion. Investments in telecommunication infrastructure are expected to grow by 2.2% (prior year: -0.9%) to € 6.9 billion.
Market forecast: telecommunications market in Germany
in € billion
Source: Bitkom, January 2022
Global cloud computing market
Following the very strong growth of 2021 (23.1%), Gartner forecasts global growth for public cloud services of 19.6% from USD 332.35 billion to USD 397.50 billion in 2022.
Market forecast: global cloud computing
in $ billion
Global sales of public cloud services
thereof Application Infrastructure Services (PaaS)
thereof Application Services (SaaS)
thereof Business Process Services (BPaaS)
thereof Desktop as a Service (DaaS)
thereof Management and Security Services
thereof System Infrastructure Services (IaaS)
Source: Gartner, April 2021
Online advertising market in Germany
After the strong rise in online advertising in 2021 (6.5%), PricewaterhouseCoopers expects a further increase in 2022 with total market growth (mobile advertising and desktop advertising) of 7.5% to € 10.21 billion.
The strongest growth is expected for video advertising and display advertising with increases of 16.5% and 9.7%, respectively.
Market forecast: online advertising in Germany (mobile advertising & desktop advertising)
in € billion
Online advertising revenues
thereof search marketing
thereof display advertising
thereof video advertising
thereof affiliate / classifieds
Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers, September 2021
Expectations for the Company in 2022
Forecast for the fiscal year 2022
With an ad-hoc announcement on December 9, 2021, United Internet AG published its guidance for the fiscal year 2022:
- United Internet AG forecasts an increase in consolidated sales to approx. € 5.8 billion for its fiscal year 2022 (prior year: around € 5.646 billion).
- Despite additional investments, EBITDA is expected to be on a par with 2021 and reach approx. € 1.25 billion again in 2022 (prior year: around € 1.259 billion). EBITDA includes initial costs for 1&1’s 5G network rollout of approx. € 70 million (compared to around € 38 million in 2021), as well as approx. € 30 million for additional marketing activities of IONOS to further raise brand awareness in its most important European markets.
- In the coming year, the Company plans significantly higher capital expenditures (capex), especially for the construction of its 5G network, as well as for the expansion of its fiber-optic network to connect the 5G antennas and provide coverage in additional expansion areas. The exact capex amount will depend in part on the availability of hardware and civil engineering services and is likely to be between € 800 million and € 1 billion (prior year: around € 290 million).
Due to its role as a holding company, the earnings of United Internet AG at parent company level are mainly influenced by its investment result (profit transfers and dividends) and the interest result. Against this backdrop, the Management Board expects strongly positive net income for fiscal year 2022 (subject to possible special items).
United Internet AG intends to maintain its shareholder-friendly dividend policy based on continuity in the coming years. Dividend payouts will continue to represent approx. 20-40% of adjusted net income from continued operations after minority interests (adjusted net income attributable to “shareholders of United Internet AG” – according to the consolidated statement of comprehensive income) in the future. The prerequisite, however, is that funds are not required for further Company development.
Management Board’s overall statement on the anticipated development
The Management Board of United Internet AG is upbeat about its prospects for the future. Thanks to a business model based predominantly on electronic subscriptions, United Internet believes it is largely stable enough to withstand cyclical influences. And with the investments made over the past few years in customer relationships, new business fields and internationalization, as well as via acquisitions and investments, the Company has laid a broad foundation for its planned future growth.
United Internet will continue to pursue this sustainable business policy in the coming years. In addition to the above mentioned investments in future-oriented topics in of 1&1 and IONOS, the segments will focus on the following topics.
- In addition to the construction of the Group’s own 5G mobile communications network, the Consumer Access segment will focus in particular on marketing mobile internet products and winning high-quality customer relationships in the fiscal year 2021.
- In the Business Access segment, the Company’s own fiber-optic network is to be expanded in 2022 with the connection of further locations. Activities for business and wholesale customers will also be expanded.
- In fiscal year 2022, the key topics in the Consumer Applications segment will again be increasing fee-based customer relationships and the further expansion of data-driven business models.
- As well as raising brand awareness, the Business Applications segment will continue to focus on expanding business with existing customers and gaining new high-quality customer relationships in 2022. In addition, the segment will strengthen its cloud business in particular and drive its international expansion.
Following a successful start to the year (at the time of preparing this Management Report), the Company’s Management Board believes that the Company is on track to reach the forecast presented above in the section “Forecast for the fiscal year 2022”.
This Management Report contains forward-looking statements based on current expectations, assumptions, and projections of the Management Board of United Internet AG and currently available information. These forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties and are based upon expectations, assumptions, and projections that may not prove to be accurate. United Internet AG does not guarantee that these forward-looking statements will prove to be accurate and does not accept any obligation, nor have the intention, to adjust or update the forward-looking statements contained in this report.