It has been a great privilege to work for Hillenbrand over the past 28 years and to serve as CEO for the last eight years.
When I wrote my first letter to shareholders in 2013, we had just marked the one-year anniversary of our acquisition of Coperion, the first transformative step in our journey towards becoming a world-class global diversified industrial company. In that year, we generated $1.6 billion in revenue, $247 million of adjusted EBITDA and $97 million of free cash flow. More recently, in November 2021, we celebrated the second anniversary of the acquisition of Milacron, which has served as a catalyst in creating the foundation for accelerating our next phase of growth. Hillenbrand has now reached over $2.8 billion in revenue, over $530 million in adjusted EBITDA and generated $488 million in free cash flow in fiscal 2021.
It is bittersweet to conclude my role as Hillenbrand’s CEO, but I am proud of the progress we have made in building a culture of execution and a strong foundation for profitable growth. I am confident that we are well positioned to drive profitable growth and deliver long-term shareholder value in fiscal 2022 and beyond.
STRONG PERFORMANCE IN FISCAL 2021
Our top priority remains the health and safety of our employees. The pandemic posed numerous challenges to our employees and their families and had a ripple effect through the global economy and supply chain. For the last several quarters, we have been operating in a period of significant inflation, global supply disruptions and labor shortages throughout the United States.
Our employees around the world responded with great resiliency and a relentless focus on serving our customers as we furthered our track record of execution and delivered a strong year of performance with record revenue, strong margins and record free cash flow. We saw a strong recovery in demand across our industrial segments resulting in record order intake and a strong backlog.
We continued to leverage the Hillenbrand Operating Model (HOM) to drive efficiencies throughout the business while adding talent and capabilities to our organization. We made significant progress on the Milacron integration in fiscal 2021, accelerating our synergy realization and exceeding our goals coming into the year. The company is well positioned to meet its $75 million year-three run-rate synergy commitment and we continue to identify areas to improve the business through the deployment of the Hillenbrand Operating Model.
Our strong free cash flow and disciplined capital allocation strategy is enabling us to invest in organic initiatives with a focus on key end markets such as food, recycling, biopolymers and batteries. We also see great opportunities to further accelerate growth in these areas through strategic acquisitions. These markets have attractive long-term growth prospects, while also serving our goals of supporting a more sustainable future. In addition, in fiscal 2021, we returned $185 million to shareholders through share repurchases and our quarterly dividends.
Delivering Strong Results in FY2021
- 13% Pro forma revenue growth
- 20% Pro forma adjusted EBITDA growth
- $1.7B Backlog, up 43% on a pro forma basis
- $185M Returned to shareholders through share repurchases and quarterly dividends
- $58M Cost synergies realized to date from the Milacron acquisition (since November 2019)
- 1.4x Net leverage, reduced from 2.7x at end of FY20
Coming into the role as CEO, my priority was to create long-term shareholder value through three main objectives: 1) develop our talent and capabilities throughout the enterprise, 2) drive margin expansion through the deployment of HOM and 3) further our transformation into a world-class global diversified industrial company. As I reflect on my tenure, I am proud of what we accomplished across all three areas.
We built a leadership team with strong industrial experience and we significantly upgraded our skills and capabilities across the enterprise, which has allowed us to implement best-in-class processes and drive improved results. This is most evident through our efforts around working capital and our significant cash generation over the past several years. We have consistently achieved our target of cash flow greater than net income and have generated $1.4 billion in free cash flow over the last 5 years, allowing us to rapidly pay down debt, invest in strategic growth opportunities and return nearly $500 million to shareholders during that time.
In addition to strong cash flow, we have a proven track record of margin improvement, which is enabled by the HOM. In FY2013, our adjusted EBITDA margin in the APS segment was approximately 12%. Through deployment of the HOM, particularly within Coperion, we improved segment margins by over 600 basis points, reaching pro forma margins of nearly 19% in FY2021. In the MTS segment, we see continued opportunity to improve operational efficiency, quality and lead times in the injection molding product line, which we believe will yield significant margin expansion over the coming years.
Lastly, we made tremendous progress transforming the portfolio with the acquisition of Milacron. We now have strong industrial platforms that are well positioned for future growth, while Batesville represents only approximately 20% of total company revenues. As we make future acquisitions that have a good strategic fit within our industrial platforms, we are confident that the scalable foundation and capabilities we have established during the Milacron integration will enable us to achieve cost synergies more effectively and efficiently. This flywheel effect can accelerate value creation from future acquisitions, allowing us to deliver greater long-term shareholder value.
Transformative Results from 2013 to 2021
- Pro Forma Revenue
- Pro Forma Adjusted EBITDA
- Free Cash Flow
OUR SUSTAINABILITY JOURNEY
The final thing I want to touch on is sustainability. While we are still in the early stages of our journey, we have made progress in making sustainability a key element of how we do business. In 2021, we hired our first Chief Sustainability Officer, who is responsible for providing strategic oversight to our sustainability efforts with a focus on integrating sustainability principles into our strategy, culture and daily operations. We are committed to demonstrating continued progress by increasing transparency regarding our impact on the environment and increasing our understanding of the global financial and physical challenges of climate change. Additionally, our companies are partnering with their customers to build a more sustainable future by developing innovative products and solutions that support customers in their efforts to conserve energy, reduce emissions, reduce and recycle waste, and lower their overall cost. We are excited about the opportunities ahead of us in this critical journey and believe sustainability will play a key role in driving long-term profitable growth for Hillenbrand.
After I informed our Board of Directors of my intent to retire, the Board executed a thorough selection process, leveraging a succession planning process that had been ongoing for several years, and ultimately appointed Kim Ryan as Hillenbrand’s new CEO. Kim brings a strong track record of success to the role. She has served as the President of Batesville and most recently as President of Coperion, where she led a global team through a period of significant growth. Kim has played an integral role in developing and executing our strategy and is well-respected throughout our organization for her deep operational expertise and strong team-building skills.
RECOGNITION & FAREWELL
I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to lead this great company through a transformative time in its history, and I want to thank the more than 10,000 Hillenbrand employees for their dedication and service in making our success possible. I want to thank our customers, shareholders, analysts, suppliers and other partners for your support and confidence in Hillenbrand over these past eight years. I also want to thank our talented leadership team and our Board of Directors for their partnership and support. Lastly, I want to express my deep gratitude to Joe Loughrey, who has been the board chair during my entire tenure as CEO. His support, guidance and mentorship have been invaluable.