LANXESS is starting the new fiscal year 2021 with confidence: The specialty chemicals company expects that many of its customer industries will recover and therefore anticipates EBITDA pre exceptionals of between EUR 900 million ($1.073 billion) and EUR 1 billion ($1.192 billion) for the full year.
LANXESS proved robust in fiscal year 2020, which was dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. The specialty chemicals company achieved EBITDA pre exceptionals of EUR 862 million ($1.03 billion), only 15.4% lower than the previous year’s figure of EUR 1.019 billion ($1.215 billion). Earnings are therefore at the top end of the guided range of between EUR 820 million and EUR 880 million ($978 million to $1.05 billion). On January 26, the Group released preliminary figures for the strong fourth quarter, after many businesses had developed better than expected. The EBITDA margin pre exceptionals reached an encouraging 14.1%, against 15.0% a year ago.
“We performed well in the pandemic year of 2020 and pulled off a strong finish in the fourth quarter. Our earnings margin shows that the Group’s stable position is standing the test of the crisis. I would like to thank the entire LANXESS team, who did everything possible in this difficult year to keep the business running,” said Matthias Zachert, Chairman of the Board of Management of LANXESS AG. “With this team and our strong position, we can tackle 2021 with optimism and focus entirely on growth.”
At EUR 6.104 billion ($7.278 billion), LANXESS’ Group sales in 2020 decreased by 10.3% from the previous year’s figure of EUR 6.802 billion ($8.111 billion). Net income from continuing operations increased sharply to EUR 908 million ($1.083 billion) after EUR 240 million ($286 million) in the previous year. This was attributable to proceeds from the sale of its stake in chemical park operator Currenta, which LANXESS concluded at the end of April. Net financial liabilities decreased from EUR 1.742 billion ($2.077 billion) at the end of 2019 to EUR 1.012 billion ($1.207 billion) as of December 31, 2020.
Despite coronavirus pandemic: dividend to increase again
The dividend is also to be increased again for the exceptional year 2020. The Board of Management and Supervisory Board will propose a dividend of EUR 1.00 per share – around 5% more than in the previous year – to the Annual Stockholders’ Meeting, which will be held virtually on May 19, 2021. This corresponds to a total payout of around EUR 87 million ($104 million).
Portfolio restructuring continues: all signs point to growth
With the sales of the membrane and chrome chemicals businesses and the announced sale of the leather chemicals business, in 2020 LANXESS systematically divested areas that no longer fit into the strategic focus on specialty chemicals. The Group thus laid the foundation for more profitable development. The sale of its stake in the chemical park operator Currenta also provided a solid financial base.
In 2021, all signs are pointing to growth – with a focus on businesses with consumer protection products. Within a few weeks, LANXESS has announced three acquisitions in this area. With the acquisition of the French biocide specialist INTACE already completed, the specialty chemicals company has expanded its range of fungicides for paper and packaging. In the future, LANXESS will significantly expand its offering for the growing animal hygiene market with the portfolio of the disinfectant and hygiene provider Theseo. The transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2021.
In mid-February 2021, the specialty chemicals company announced the second-largest acquisition in its history. By acquiring the U.S. group Emerald Kalama Chemical, LANXESS can further strengthen its Consumer Protection segment and tap into new fields of application with high margins such as the food industry and animal health. The Group expects the transaction to be completed in the second half of the year following regulatory approvals.
“Consumer Protection products are characterised by attractive growth rates and strong margins. We want to grow in this area and have got down to it right from the very start of the year,” said Zachert.
Segment development 2020: Consumer Protection performs strongly
Sales and earnings performance in the Advanced Intermediates segment was influenced by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 as a whole. Weak demand and lower prices had a negative effect on the Advanced Industrial Intermediates business unit in particular. Sales fell by 11.2% from EUR 2.251 billion ($2.685 billion) to EUR 1.999 billion ($2.384 billion). At EUR 336 million ($401 million), EBITDA pre exceptionals was 12.3% lower than the previous year’s figure of EUR 383 million ($457 million). The EBITDA margin pre exceptionals was almost stable at 16.8%, against 17.0% in the previous year.
In the Specialty Additives segment, sales volumes – especially in the automotive and aviation industries – likewise decreased significantly due to the coronavirus pandemic. Exchange rates also had a negative effect on sales and earnings. At EUR 1.728 billion ($2.061 billion), sales were down 12.1% on the previous year’s figure of EUR 1.965 billion ($2.343 billion), partly due to slightly lower selling prices. EBITDA pre exceptionals fell by 19.5% from EUR 353 million ($567 million) to EUR 284 million ($337 million). The EBITDA margin pre exceptionals for fiscal year 2020 came in at 16.4%, against 18.0% in the previous year.
The businesses in the Consumer Protection segment, newly created in 2020, performed strongly throughout the year. This was driven by strong agrochemicals business at Saltigo and good demand for disinfectants. The positive portfolio effect from the acquisition of the Brazilian biocide manufacturer IPEL also more than offset adverse exchange rate effects. Sales amounted to EUR 1.110 billion, up 5.7% on the previous year’s figure of EUR 1.050 billion. EBITDA pre exceptionals grew by 17.7% from EUR 198 million to EUR 233 million. The EBITDA margin pre exceptionals reached a strong 21.0%, against 18.9% a year ago.
In the Engineering Materials segment, sales and earnings were hit by weak demand from the automotive industry in the first half of the year. Sales declined by 17.9% from EUR 1.450 billion to EUR 1.190 billion, partly due to lower selling prices and negative exchange rate effects. EBITDA pre exceptionals fell by 36.6% from EUR 238 million to EUR 151 million. In addition to the weak demand, earnings were also reduced by a significant, planned maintenance shutdown and difficulties with the subsequent resumption of production in Belgium. The EBITDA margin pre exceptionals of 12.7% was below the figure of 16.4% posted in the previous year.