Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Annual Share-holders’ Meeting of Wacker Chemie AG was the second to be held in an entirely virtual format: for health-protection reasons, no share-holders or shareholder representatives were physically present at the event.
In his speech – published in advance on the WACKER website and broadcast live to shareholders via internet – retiring President and CEO Rudolf Staudigl discussed the pandemic’s impact in the past fiscal year. “2020 was an exceptionally challenging year for all of us,” said Staudigl. “WACKER initially got off to a good start in the first quarter of the year. In the second quarter, we had to contend with sales slumps of up to 20 percent. First signs of a recovery came in the third quarter and the final quarter of 2020 was a strong one, with sales rising substantially across all divisions.”
At €4.69 billion, total sales in 2020 were down 5 percent year over year. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) decreased 15 percent to €666.3 million. This decline was mainly due to the special income of €112.5 million posted in the pre-vious year. Adjusted for this amount, EBITDA was only 1 percent lower year over year. Net income for the year climbed to €202.3 mil-lion (2019: €-629.2 million). At the same time, net cash flow almost quadrupled and net financial debt declined substantially.
WACKER continued on its growth trajectory in Q1 2021. Sales grew 14 percent year over year to €1.36 billion – WACKER’s highest first-quarter sales figure since its IPO in 2006. EBITDA rose 42 percent to €246 million. Net income for the period came to €107 million, up by a substantial 55 percent year over year. “These figures give us confi-dence as regards the further course of business,” Staudigl empha-sized.
WACKER had already raised its full-year forecast when it presented its Q1 figures, and it reaffirmed its positive outlook at the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting. Despite the continued risks connected with the coronavirus pandemic, and even higher raw-material prices and currency-exchange effects which are estimated to have a full-year impact of over €200 million, WACKER expects full-year Group sales to exceed last year’s figure (€4,692.2 million) by a low-double-digit percentage. According to current projections, EBITDA is likely to increase by 15 to 25 percent versus last year’s figure (€666.3 million).
“Thus far, WACKER has made it through the pandemic better than expected. The best defenses against the pandemic have proven to be our strong strategic focus on specialty chemical products that provide high added value for our customers, our lead in quality for polysilicon and the expansion of our biotechnology business,” said Staudigl. “We want our shareholders to participate in this success as well.” For 2020, WACKER is distributing a total of €99.4 million in dividends to its shareholders. The dividend per dividend-bearing share is €2.00. The Executive and Supervisory Boards’ other proposals were also adopted by large majorities.
At the end of the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting, Staudigl retired after 38 years at WACKER, 13 of which he spent at the helm. In his speech, he thanked all the company’s shareholders, business partners and Supervisory Board members for the trust they had placed in him. The retiring CEO reserved special thanks for all the company’s employees: “Their skills, commitment and performance are the source of WACKER’s success.”