2017-18 has been our best year at Hikal ayearthatyielded us withrecord revenues and profits. Our sales grew by26%tof 13001 million and our net profitgrew by 9% to~ 772 million. The growth was achieved in spite of the several cha I lengeswe faced during the year particularly in the disruption of supplies and the costincreases in raw materials originating from China.
Based on our future outlook and expected strong cashflows the Boardhas recommended one bonus share for every two equity shares.
The Board has recommended a total dividend of 60%- 35% interim and afinal dividend of 25% on the expanded capital after bonus issue (maintained at 60% as theprevious year). In the past three years the number of shareholders has almost tripled toabout 19000 which has increased the liquidity for our shares in the market.
Our crop protection division grew by 29% from f 4233 million to f5473 million. This is due to the growth in sales of our existing products and owing tothe introduction of our new products. We successfully commissioned a new project for aleading innovator company and this business is expected to grow. Our R&D has developednew crop protection products to be introduced in the coming years. Our biocide businessshowed significant growth and new products are in the pipeline.
Our pharmaceutical division grew by 23% from f 6106 million to f 7528million via a growth in sales of our existing products and the introduction of newproducts. We filed 3 DMF's and2CEP's.
We have been able to maintain our EBITDA margin at 19% in spite ofsignificant raw material cost increases through operational excellence. Our Debt EquityRatio has further improved to 0.91 as compared to 0.95 last year. We have brought down theoverall cost of our borrowings and are targeting to reduce this further as we areexpecting an improvement in our current credit rating of"A-".
We have a strong focus on compliance quality and integrity and anexcellent track record on quality audits from the regulatory authorities of variouscountries and leading multinational companies. We have maintained high standards of safetyand environment control.
We continue to place great emphasis on our Research and Technology(R&T) and have invested 3.4% of our sales. We have expanded our R&T capabilitiesand manpower and have added new technologies to our tool box. Furthermore we have fileda number of patents during the year. Our change of business model -from being aCDMOtoselling our own products which we developed in our R&T is yielding results.
We are making significant capital expenditure in the coming year tomeet the growing demand for our existing products as well as our new products. We willfinance this from internal accruals and partly from bank borrowings.
I am proud to inform you that this year we complete 30 years ofoperations which is a significant milestone for any organisation. Hikal has shownsustained growth in both our businesses: crop protection and pharmaceuticals over theyears (See page 18-19).
I am pleased to announce that Ranjit Shahani former Vice Chairman ofNovartis India has joined our board as an Additional Director. His vast experience willbe very beneficial to our operations. Professor Axel Kleemann who served on our board forseveral years has decided to retire however he will continue to be a valued member of ourScientific Advisory Board.
The outlook for the business looks promising and we are expecting togrow in a sustained manner in the coming years.
I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to our employeesclients bankers shareholders and all other partners for their continued confidence andsupport.
We look forward to a successful 2018-19.
Chairman and Managing Director