Wacker 2017 forecast is set for sales growth and high net cashflow
As already reported, Wacker Chemie AG met its sales target and exceeded its earnings expectations in 2016. On presenting its annual report today, the Munich-based chemical company announced that Group sales came in at EUR 5.40 billion, up 2 % year over year (2015: EUR 5.30 billion). The rise was mainly due to higher volumes. EBITDA – earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization – totalled EUR 1101.4 million in 2016 (2015: EUR 1048.8 million). This corresponds to an EBITDA margin of 20.4 % (2015: 19.8 %)
Although special income from advance payments retained and damages received from solar customers was much lower than in 2015, EBITDA was 5 % above the prior-year value. Special income totalled EUR 20.3 million in full-year 2016 (2015: EUR 137.6 million). Adjusted for this effect, EBITDA reached EUR 1081.1 million (2015: EUR 911.2 million), a rise of around 19 %. The Group’s EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) came in at EUR366.2 million in 2016 (2015: EUR473.4 million), a year-over-year decline of 23 %. A key factor here was that depreciation rose significantly. It amounted to EUR 735.2 million in 2016 (2015: EUR 575.4 million). On the bottom line, WACKER ended 2016 with Group net income of EUR 189.3 million (2015: EUR 241.8 million). That was around 22 % less than the year before.
In 2017, WACKER intends to continue its good performance, despite expectations of higher raw-material prices. For the full year, WACKER aims to lift its sales by a mid-single-digit percentage. Group EBITDA is projected at last year’s level – when adjusted on a comparable basis to exclude special income from damages received and from terminated contractual and delivery relationships with solar customers. WACKER anticipates a high cash inflow from operating activities again in 2017.
At about EUR 400 million, net cash flow should be at a similar level to the year before. Group net income is also projected to reach the year- earlier level.
During the first two months of the current year, WACKER’s business developed positively. In chemicals, and at Siltronic and WACKER POLYSILICON, sales for the first two months were clearly above the comparable values of last year. Overall, WACKER expects to generate sales of some EUR 1.4 billion in the first quarter of 2017 (Q1 2016: EUR1.31 billion). In addition to volume growth, WACKER is achieving better prices than a year earlier, especially for semiconductor wafers. As a result, the Group expects EBITDA to grow significantly in Q1 2017.
“WACKER is in very good shape,” said CEO Rudolf Staudigl in Munich on Tuesday. “We expect volumes to rise at every division. In the industry sectors relevant to our business, the trend will be broadly positive in 2017. That is why we are confident of increasing sales by a slightly higher %age than last year. We are, however, facing headwind from raw-material prices. At present, they are rising significantly and this could impact earnings. If current market conditions remain unchanged during the year, we definitely see additional upward potential for EBITDA – over and above our present expectations.”
In 2016, the Group’s capital expenditures amounted to EUR 427.6 million (2015: EUR 834.0 million). They dropped by about half versus the year before, as expected.
One of the priorities of investing activities last year remained the completion of the new polysilicon site at Charleston, Tennessee (USA). Some EUR 100 million – or about a quarter of total capital spending in 2016 – went toward this project. WACKER finished commissioning the production facilities there on schedule in the third quarter of 2016.
A further investment priority in 2016 was expanding capacities for manufacturing downstream products. For example, WACKER increased production capacity for cyclodextrins by 30 % at its site in Eddyville, Iowa (USA). At its Burghausen site, it expanded production of functional silicone fluids in several stages. Capital spending for this amounted to some EUR 25 million. Siltronic’s Freiberg site invested in new pulling facilities for manufacturing silicon monocrystals.
In 2016, WACKER began additional investment projects. These include new facilities for silicone products at sites in Jincheon (South Korea) and Jandira (Brazil). In Burghausen, WACKER is building a new reactor for polymeric dispersions and is expanding a plant for hydrophobic specialty grades of silica.
Sales growth at the chemical divisions and the start-up of the new site in Charleston, Tennessee, expanded the Group’s workforce. The number of employees rose by around 230 in 2016. The Group had 17205 employees worldwide as of December 31, 2016 (Dec. 31, 2015: 16972). Its German sites had 12138 employees at the reporting date (2015: 12251) and its international sites 5067 (2015: 4,721).
Net Cash Flow, Net Financial Debt and Equity Ratio
As projected, the Group’s net cash flow was clearly positive, increasing many times over versus the year before. It came in at EUR 400.6 million (2015: EUR 22.5 million). This strong rise was mainly due to the marked decline in capital expenditures. The Group’s net financial debt amounted to EUR 992.5 million as of December 31, 2016 (Dec. 31, 2015: EUR 1074.0 million). It was slightly below the year-earlier level, as planned. WACKER’s total assets amounted to EUR7.46 billion as of December 31, 2016, rising by about EUR200 million compared with the year before (Dec. 31, 2015: EUR 7.26 billion). The key factors supporting this increase of almost 3 % were higher trade receivables and higher inventories. At the reporting date, Group equity amounted to around EUR 2.59 billion (Dec. 31, 2015: EUR 2.80 billion). The corresponding equity ratio was 34.8 % (Dec. 31, 2015: 38.5 %). The decline was basically caused by an adjustment to pension provisions recognized in other comprehensive income, as the result of a change in the discount rate. Pension provisions amounted to EUR2.11 billion at the reporting date (Dec. 31, 2015: EUR 1.61 billion). Compared with their September 30 peak of last year (EUR2.57 billion), pension provisions were down by about EUR460 million by the end of the year.
In 2016, sales at WACKER SILICONES topped the two-billion-euro mark for the first time, rising to EUR 2.00 billion (2015: EUR 1.94 billion). The main reason for this 3 % increase was volume growth amid somewhat lower prices. EBITDA outpaced sales growth, climbing 31 % to EUR 361.2 million (2015: EUR 276.2 million). The rise was fuelled by volume growth, good plant utilization and high levels of cost efficiency.
Sales at WACKER POLYMERS grew slightly in 2016, up 1 % to around EUR1.20 billion (2015: EUR1.19 billion). Growth was mainly driven by higher volumes for dispersions and dispersible polymer powders.
Lower prices had the opposite effect. EBITDA amounted to EUR 261.0 million, rising by around 17 % (2015: EUR 222.2 million). This reflected the impact of much higher volumes, good plant capacity utilization and very high levels of cost efficiency.
The sales trend was positive at WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS, too. Sales rose by around 5 % in 2016 to EUR 206.4 million (2015:EUR 197.1 million). It was essentially higher volumes that spurred the increase, while lower prices had the opposite effect. EBITDA increased by 15 % to EUR37.0 million (2015: EUR32.2 million), mainly due to volume growth and high plant utilization.
WACKER POLYSILICON lifted its sales slightly in 2016. They climbed 3 % to around EUR1.10 billion (2015: EUR 1.06 billion). The rise was due to substantial volume growth, despite the fact that average solar-silicon prices were lower. At over 66000 metric tons, the division sold more polysilicon last year than the year before (2015: 56000 metric tons). EBITDA amounted to EUR 285.9 million, 29 % below the previous year’s level (2015: EUR 402.4 million). The decline was basically caused by lower average prices, by start-up costs at the new production site at Charleston, Tennessee (USA), and by a substantial reduction in special income from advance payments retained and damages received from customers. In 2016, special income amounted to EUR20.3 million (2015: EUR137.6 million).
At Siltronic, sales in 2016 were roughly on a par with the previous year, coming in at EUR 933.4 million (2015: EUR 931.3 million). Volume gains and favourable exchange-rate effects were countered by lower prices. EBITDA improved by about 18 % year over year, climbing to
EUR145.9 million (2015: EUR 124.0 million). Positive factors influencing EBITDA included additional cost-reduction measures, high rates of production-capacity utilization and lower currency-hedging expenses.
Proposal on Appropriation of Profits
In 2016, Wacker Chemie AG posted a retained profit of EUR 1243.8 million under German Commercial Code accounting rules. The Executive and Supervisory Boards will propose a dividend of EUR2.00 per share (2015: EUR2.00) at the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting. Based on the number of shares entitled to dividends as of December 31, 2016, the cash dividend corresponds to a payout of EUR99.4 million. Calculated in relation to WACKER’s average share price in 2016, the dividend yield is 2.6 %.
Estimates by economic experts indicate that the world economy is on track for moderate growth. But the projections involve major uncertainties.
WACKER’s chemical business offers good prospects for further growth in 2017. Sales are projected to continue rising at all three chemical divisions. At WACKER SILICONES and WACKER POLYMERS, sales are expected to grow by a mid-single-digit %age, with all business units contributing. At WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS, the sales forecast is for a low-single-digit percentage increase, chiefly driven by products for the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries.
EBITDA at WACKER SILICONES should rise slightly year over year, amid higher raw-material prices in some cases. At WACKER POLYMERS, the EBITDA projection is for a substantial year-over-year decline due to expectations of much higher raw-material prices – with the projected EBITDA margin exceeding the 16 % targeted for WACKER’s chemical divisions. At WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS, integration costs for the new site in Spain will impact 2017’s EBITDA, which will be significantly lower than last year.
In its polysilicon business, WACKER expects additional volume growth in 2017. The Group’s assumption is that the photovoltaic market will continue on its growth trajectory. Given the fact that average solar- silicon prices are likely to be lower than a year earlier, WACKER POLYSILICON expects sales to only match last year’s level despite volume growth. The division’s EBITDA should be somewhat higher than last year – when adjusted on a comparable basis to exclude special income from advance payments retained and damages received.
In its semiconductor business, WACKER is projecting a high-single- digit percentage increase in sales. Siltronic expects sales to reach at least EUR1 billion in the current year, mainly spurred by volume gains and higher sales prices. In 200 mm and 300 mm wafer business, the company anticipates high capacity utilization. EBITDA is likely to climb substantially year over year. Siltronic forecasts an EBITDA margin of at least 20 %, potentially even significantly higher.
Overall, WACKER expects Group sales to rise by a mid-single-digit %age in 2017. EBITDA – adjusted on a comparable basis to exclude special income – should be on a par with last year. If current market conditions continue during the year, there will be additional opportunities for the EBITDA trend. The Group’s EBITDA margin is projected to be slightly below the year-earlier level due to generally lower prices for its own products and rising raw-material prices. At around EUR450 million, capital expenditures will edge up slightly versus last year. Depreciation will be slightly below last year’s level, at around EUR 720 million. Group net income is projected to be at the year-earlier level. Net cash flow should be clearly positive and at a similar level to last year. Net financial debt will decrease significantly.