Cash flow and working capital
The Group's Free cash flow amounted to EUR 28.0 (73.6) million in October–December. The Group's operating cash flow before financial and tax items amounted to EUR 35.2 (83.1) million in October–December. Cash flow improved in the last quarter of 2016 compared to previous quarters, but still remained lower than last year mainly due to weak profitability and restructuring costs.
For the full year of 2016, the Group's Free cash flow amounted to EUR -72.1 (53.9) million. The Group's operating cash flow before financial and tax items amounted to EUR -22.4 (85.8) million. Cash flow deteriorated in 2016 vs. 2015 mainly due to the low profitability, impacted by restructuring costs and project write-downs. Free cash flow was also impaired by an increase in working capital, by the higher level of investments especially in IT in the first three quarters of the year and by the completed acquisitions early in the year.
Working capital was EUR -2.6 million at the end of December (9/2016: EUR 56.1 million) i.e. negative in line with the strategic financial target. Working capital improved by EUR 58.7 million during the fourth quarter compared to the end of the third quarter. The improvement was driven by Caverion’s intensified focus on invoicing and receivables management. Also the completed project write-downs reduced working capital in the fourth quarter. Furthermore, Caverion succeeded in diminishing the amount of its POC receivables by EUR 88 million during the fourth quarter compared to the end of the third quarter. At the end of 2016, the Group’s POC receivables amounted to EUR 244.4 (12/2015: 254.0) million.
The growth in working capital by EUR 12.8 million from the end of the previous year (12/2015: EUR -15.4 million) was mainly driven by the increase in trade receivables and the decrease in trade payables. Overall, Caverion faced challenges in managing its working capital during the first three quarters of the year, but managed to catch up the target level during the last quarter by intensifying its focus on invoicing and receivables management.