Is PostNL a Buy After Subdued Stock Price Performance?

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Written By Jackson Hartwell

PostNL continues to grapple with significant challenges, primarily driven by rising labor costs and declining mail volumes. The company’s first-quarter results for 2024 reflect these ongoing difficulties, with revenue declining and operating income turning negative.

Despite some improvements in free cash flow, the overall financial outlook remains subdued.

Challenging Market Environment Persists for PostNL

Credits: DepositPhotos

In the first quarter of 2024, PostNL reported a 2% decline in revenue to €765 million. The company’s earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) shifted from a €7 million profit last year to a €9 million loss this year. However, free cash flow showed some improvement, reducing from a €31 million outflow to a €7 million outflow.

A significant portion of PostNL’s revenue, €555 million or 72.5%, is generated by the Parcels segment. Despite a 4.6% increase in volume driven by international demand, revenues in this segment decreased by €6 million year-on-year. The decline was primarily due to a less favorable product and customer mix and ongoing labor cost inflation.

While international volumes grew by 25%, domestic volumes remained flat, reflecting the broader challenges within the segment. The Netherlands and Belgium saw a modest 2.5% growth in parcel revenues, and the Spring business experienced a 7.8% increase.

In the Mail segment, revenues fell by 7.1% to €324 million. This segment saw its normalized EBIT drop from an €8 million profit to a €5 million loss, driven by a 12.5% reduction in mail volumes. When adjusting for election mail in the comparable quarter last year, volumes were still down by 8.3%.

The mail business faced €31 million in EBIT pressure due to unfavorable revenue volume and mix, which was only partially offset by €7 million in pricing adjustments and €6 million in positive volume-dependent cost developments.

Financial Performance and Cost Structure

PostNL’s financial performance highlights the challenges it faces in managing costs amid declining revenues. The company’s ability to significantly adjust its cost structure is limited, particularly in light of rising labor costs.

Mail carriers and deliverers already earn modest wages, and further cost reductions in this area are difficult to achieve without impacting service levels.

To address these issues, PostNL is exploring ways to consolidate delivery rounds and extend delivery times for standard mail. Currently, the law mandates that standard mail be delivered within one day, but PostNL aims to extend this to two days and eventually three days.

This change could reduce labor cost pressures and encourage more customers to opt for parcel locker deliveries rather than front-door deliveries, thus decoupling volume from labor costs.

Outlook for 2024

The financial outlook for 2024 is not particularly encouraging. At the midpoint of its guidance ranges, PostNL expects stable normalized EBIT, lower comprehensive income, and a decline in free cash flow. This indicates that investors should not anticipate significant growth in earnings or free cash flow in the near term.

The persistent revenue and cost challenges are substantial, making it difficult to foresee a strong upside potential for earnings.


Despite recent improvements in free cash flow, PostNL’s overall financial outlook remains bleak. The stock’s significant decline has led to a lower valuation, but this does not necessarily indicate an improvement in business fundamentals. Free cash flow and EBITDA projections have continued to decline.

The company’s reliance on tariff increases to offset rising costs has not been sufficient to counteract the headwinds it faces. Consequently, the risk-reward profile remains unattractive.


Credits: DepositPhotos

PostNL is facing major challenges in its Mail segment, with ongoing declines in mail volumes and rising labor costs. The company’s efforts to mitigate these issues, such as extending delivery times and consolidating delivery rounds, have yet to demonstrate substantial benefits.

While there is some potential upside due to the stock’s lower price, the overall financial outlook and persistent challenges make it difficult to view the stock as an attractive investment at this time.


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