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EANS-News: Strong Polysilicon Business Mitigates Sales and Earnings Drop in Q1 2009
- Q1 2009 Group sales drop 14 percent to Â€873 million - At Â€158 million, the operating result (EBITDA) was 46 percent lower than the prior-year figure - Positive net cash flow of Â€71 million - Full year 2009 sales and earnings expected to drop substantially year on year - Continuation of strategic growth projects via investments of some Â€800 million in current ficsal year
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MĂĽnchen (euro adhoc) - April 30, 2009 - The global recession clearly impacted Wacker Chemie AGÂ´s Q1 2009 figures. The Munich-based chemical company generated January-March 2009 sales totaling EUR872.5 million (Q1 2008: EUR1,019.5m), down 14 percent compared to the prior-year quarter. This was primarily due to a decrease in sales volumes, though partially because of lower prices, too. In contrast, the more favorable US$ exchange rate had a positive effect on sales of +4 percent.
WACKER enacted measures as early as the second half of 2008 to cut costs and temporarily adjust production capacity to slowing demand. The first quarter of 2009 showed benefits of these measures on profitability. Whereas WACKERÂ´s first-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell 46 percent year on year to EUR157.8 million (Q1 2008: EUR291.1m), the figure nevertheless reflected the advantages of lower material costs and personnel expenses, as well as more favorable raw-material and energy prices. The EBITDA margin equaled 18.1 percent (Q1 2008: 28.6 percent). The GroupÂ´s Q1 2009 earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) reached EUR58.2 million (Q1 2008: EUR198.7m), with a quarterly result of EUR5.5 million (Q1 2008: EUR130.6m). Earnings per share were EUR0.17 (Q1 2008: EUR2.63).
The GroupÂ´s polysilicon business made the largest contribution to Q1 2009 sales and earnings. The WACKER POLYSILICON divisionÂ´s sales crossed the EUR300 million mark in a single quarter for the first time ever and EBITDA rose 136 percent. Nevertheless, the sales and earnings trend declined significantly at all other divisions. The drop was most pronounced for SiltronicÂ´s semiconductor business, where sales were down 64 percent year on year - with EBITDA declining to EUR-60.0 million.
For full-year 2009, WACKER is expecting markedly lower sales and operational earnings compared with the prior-year figures. How strong this decline will be primarily depends on further demand and price developments at WACKERÂ´s key customer groups. The Group is focusing its investments on its strategic growth projects, particularly the ongoing expansion of polysilicon production capacity. From todayÂ´s viewpoint, WACKERÂ´s investment volume will reach a magnitude of EUR800 million in fiscal 2009.
"After several years of successful growth, we are facing a period of widespread economic uncertainty and thus a great entrepreneurial challenge in light of the global recession," said Group CEO Rudolf Staudigl in Munich on Thursday. "Our measures to limit the impact of the economic crisis on our company are proving effective. The key megatrends that we profit from remain intact. This is why I stay optimistic about WACKERÂ´s future in the long term, even though 2009 will not be an easy year for us."
Regions Benefiting from the strength of its polysilicon business, the WACKER Group saw first-quarter sales in Germany climb some 3 percent year on year to EUR220.8 million (Q1 2008: EUR215.3m). In the rest of Europe, however, sales fell 23 percent to EUR202.0 million (Q1 2008: EUR260.8m). Asia remains WACKERÂ´s largest market, though January-March 2009 sales there dropped by 23 percent to EUR267.0 million (Q1 2008: EUR345.6m). China accounts for over half of WACKERÂ´s Asian sales. In the Americas, WACKER generated sales of EUR162.3 million in the period under review, nearly matching the prior-year level (Q1 2008: EUR169.2m). In this region, WACKER profited from the consolidation of Air Products Polymers, a former partner company, and from the favorable euro/dollar exchange rate. In "Other Regions", Q1 2009 sales totaled EUR20.4 million (Q1 2008: EUR28.6m).
Net Cash Flow and Investments WACKER generated a positive net cash flow of EUR70.9 million (Q1 2008: EUR-3.2m) from January-March 2009. Here, a EUR67.9 million increase of customer prepayments and reductions in current assets together with our investment focus on strategic growth projects were the key contributors. Additionally, in Q1 2008, a EUR173.4 million payment for acquiring the shares in Air Products Polymers and Wacker Polymer Systems (former partner companies) had affected cash flow in that quarter.
In Q1 2009, WACKER invested EUR176.8 million (Q1 2008: EUR145.5m). The focus was on polysilicon expansion projects at Burghausen and NĂĽnchritz (Germany), as well as on extension of the silicones site in Zhangjiagang (China). Some EUR100 million was spent on the ongoing polysilicon capacity expansion alone in the period under review. In the medium term, WACKER intends to build a new production plant for hyperpure polycrystalline silicon in the USA to satisfy the increase in demand expected from the solar and semiconductor industries in the years to come. In February, WACKER purchased a plot of land (550 acres or 220 hectares) in the State of Tennessee for this purpose at a cost of close to $20 million.
Employees On March 31, 2009, WACKER had 15,851 employees worldwide (Dec. 31, 2008: 15,922), of whom 12,103 worked at German sites (Dec. 31, 2008: 12,110) and 3,748 at international sites as per the end of Q1 2009 (Dec. 31, 2008: 3,812). To gain the flexibility needed for reacting to the current demand decline, the Group applied for short-time work schedules at Siltronic AG from January 2009 and at Wacker Chemie AG from February, in each case for six months. In addition, the Group is taking every opportunity to reduce personnel costs by not extending limited employment contracts and by terminating contracts with temporary workers. WACKER is also transferring employees from its semiconductor subsidiary Siltronic to other corporate entities.
Business Divisions In Q1 2009, WACKER SILICONES generated total sales of EUR264.9 million (Q1 2008: EUR360.3m). The sales trend was marked by a substantial decline in sales volumes, particularly in the construction and automotive market segments, as well as in the textile industry. In contrast, sales in the medical technology and power generation and distribution segments developed comparatively better. WACKER SILICONES generated an EBITDA of EUR27.7 million from January-March 2009 (Q1 2008: EUR64.8m), thus achieving an EBITDA margin of 10.5 percent (Q1 2008: 18.0 percent). The year on year earnings drop resulted almost entirely from lower volumes. Favorable exchange rates and lower personnel costs, however, had a positive effect on earnings.
Construction-segment weakness worldwide and seasonal effects of the severe winter in Europe had a noticeable impact on WACKER POLYMERSÂ´ sales. Total sales from January-March 2009 amounted to EUR172.3 million (Q1 2008: EUR198.5m), down 13 percent year on year. Adjusted for the addition of Air Products PolymersÂ´ dispersion business, the decline was 22 percent. Q1 2009 EBITDA for the division was EUR21.5 million (Q1 2008: EUR38.1m), resulting in an EBITDA margin of 12.5 percent (Q1 2008: 19.2 percent). The earnings drop vis-Ă -vis Q1 2008 was primarily caused by declining sales volumes and price pressure. In contrast, lower raw material costs and more favorable exchange rates had a positive effect on results. Measures to optimize production efficiency also served to support earnings.
WACKER FINE CHEMICALS had total sales of EUR21.6 million in Q1 2009 (Q1 2008: EUR27.7m), down 22 percent year on year. This drop in sales is attributable to the discontinuation of certain catalog products resulting from the fine-chemical business portfolio consolidation. The divisionÂ´s earnings performance presents a similar picture. The division generated an EBITDA of EUR1.9 million for January-March 2009 (Q1 2008: EUR3.2m), thus achieving an EBITDA margin of 8.8 percent (Q1 2008: 11.6 percent). WACKER FINE CHEMICALSÂ´ bioengineered products, such as cyclodextrins and cysteine, performed well. The same was true of pharmaceutical proteins, thanks to rising sales volumes.
WACKER POLYSILICON profited further from continued strong polysilicon demand in Q1 2009. Compared to the prior-year period, the division doubled its total quarterly sales to EUR315.0 million (Q1 2008: EUR155.9m). The enormous production capacity expansion at the Burghausen site was primarily responsible for this growth. WACKER POLYSILICONÂ´s EBITDA greatly outpaced sales growth, climbing to EUR168.1 million (Q1 2008: EUR71.3m). This represents a 136 percent increase compared with the prior-year quarter. At 53.4 percent (Q1 2008: 45.7 percent), the EBITDA margin remains at the high level achieved in the last few quarters. This growth was driven by higher sales volumes, as well as by positive price and product-mix effects.
At Siltronic, the negative business trend of late fiscal 2008 gained additional momentum in Q1 2009. Sales revenues of EUR126.0 million (Q1 2008: EUR346.1m) for the period under review were 64 percent below the comparable prior-year figure. Quarterly demand for silicon wafers of all diameters was very weak in all regions. This led to both significantly lower sales volumes and a drastic deterioration in market prices. Moreover, the silicon-monocrystal business for the solar and equipment industry showed clear signs of the current crisis in terms of both sales volumes and prices achievable on the spot market. Favorable exchange rates were not able to compensate for the extremely difficult global semiconductor-market situation. As a result, Siltronic posted a January-March 2009 EBITDA of EUR-60.0 million (Q1 2008: EUR114.0m). The EBITDA margin dropped accordingly from 32.9 percent in Q1 2008 to -47.6 percent in Q1 2009. To counteract the earnings situation, Siltronic implemented an extensive package of measures that will reduce personnel costs. This led to a year on year personnel-cost reduction of 30 percent in Q1 2009.
Outlook WACKER is preparing for a global downturn in 2009. From todayÂ´s vantage point, it is not clear whether the global economy will return to a growth path in 2010. Given the economic uncertainties, the Group cannot make a reliable and quantifiable forecast for the rest of 2009 at this time. Based on the current situation, the Munich-based chemical company assumes sales and the operating result will decline noticeably from now until year-end.
Despite the generally difficult global environment, WACKER does see growth potential, especially at WACKER POLYSILICON, which is profiting from plant and product-line expansions. At WACKERÂ´s other three large divisions, however, business trends will be more difficult. According to company estimates, the silicon-wafer business will perform particularly weakly, due in part to falling prices for 300 mm wafers. Currently, no reliable forecast is possible for WACKER SILICONES or WACKER POLYMERS.
WACKER enacted a series of measures at an early stage to counter the pressures of the global financial and economic crisis. For example, the Group cut budgets, introduced short-time work and other measures to lower personnel expenses, placed restraints on hiring, modified investment plans and safeguarded operational financing. WACKER intends to reduce personnel costs during the current fiscal year by 15 percent, thus by some EUR160 million. The Group anticipates positive effects in 2009 from raw-material and energy costs, which will probably be lower than in 2008.
For the long term, WACKER believes that key megatrends will remain strong, enabling the company to sustainably profit from them. For example, the Group has a whole series of products to serve the energy megatrend. As in the past, the largest growth opportunities there arise from the manufacture of polysilicon for the solar industry. As for the digitization megatrend, the GroupÂ´s semiconductor-grade silicon wafers will enable it to benefit from further growth. In view of its strong regional presence in AsiaÂ´s growth markets and in emerging economies elsewhere, WACKER can offer a whole range of products and solutions that are ideal for increasing living standards in these regions. WACKER is confident about the long-term potential of these megatrends and intends to use them to resume its sustainably-oriented growth path once the global economy has come out of recession.
Information for editorial offices: The Q1 2009 report can be downloaded from WACKERÂ´s website (www.wacker.com) under Investor Relations.
WACKER's Key Figures |EUR million |Q1 2009 |Q1 2008 |Change | | | | | |in % | | |Sales |872.5 |1,019.5 |-14.4 | | |EBITDA1 |157.8 |291.1 |-45.8 | | |EBITDA margin2 |18.1% |28.6% |-36.7 | | |EBIT3 |58.2 |198.7 |-70.7 | | |EBIT margin2 |6.7% |19.5% |-65.8 | | | | | | | | |Financial result |-7.1 |-0.8 |>100 | | |Income before taxes |51.1 |197.9 |-74.2 | | |Result for the period |5.5 |130.6 |-95.8 | | | | | | | | |Earnings per share in EUR |0.17 |2.63 |-93.6 | | | | | | | | |Investments (incl. |176.8 |145.5 |21.5 | | |financial assets) | | | | | |Investments in acquisitions|0.0 |-173.4 |-100 | | |Net cash flow |70.9 |-3.3 |n.a. | | | | | | | | |EUR million | Mar. 31, | Mar. |Dec. 31,| | | |2009 |31, 2008|2008 | | | | | | | | |Equity |2,106.1 |1,908.6 |2,082.8 | | |Financial liabilities |283.9 |250.2 |272.4 | | |Provisions for pensions |382.5 |374.4 |376.1 | | |Net financial debt |-100.7 |-152.8 |-32.9 | | |Total assets |4,705.1 |4,226.8 |4,625.1 | | | | | | | | |Employees (number at end of|15,851 |15,660 |15,922 | | |period) | | | | | | | | | | | 1 EBITDA is EBIT before depreciation and amortization. 2 Margins are calculated based on sales. 3 EBIT is the result from continuing operations for the period before interest and other financial results, limited partnership interests and income taxes. This press release contains forward-looking statements based on assumptions and estimates of WACKERÂ´s Executive Board. Although we assume the expectations in these forward-looking statements are realistic, we cannot guarantee they will prove to be correct. The assumptions may harbor risks and uncertainties that may cause the actual figures to differ considerably from the forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause such discrepancies include, among other things, changes in the economic and business environment, variations in exchange and interest rates, the introduction of competing products, lack of acceptance for new products or services, and changes in corporate strategy. WACKER does not plan to update the forward-looking statements, nor does it assume the obligation to do so.
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