The Annual Shareholders’ Meeting of Wacker Chemie AG was held this year again in an entirely virtual format: for health-protection reasons, no shareholders or shareholder representatives were physically present at the event.
CEO Christian Hartel described in his speech – published in advance on the WACKER website and broadcast live to shareholders during the virtual meeting – the exceptionally successful business trend in the past fiscal year. “WACKER grew strongly in 2021, due to higher volumes and better prices across all four business divisions,” Hartel said, though high raw-material and energy costs were a cause for concern.
Total sales in 2021 were €6.21 billion, up 32 percent year over year (2020: €4.69 billion). At €1.54 billion, EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) was more than double the prior-year figure (2020: €666 million). Net income for the year climbed to €828 million (2020: €202 million). At €761 million, net cash flow increased another 9 percent compared with the very strong prior year (€698 million) and net financial assets were €547 million as of December 31, 2021 (Dec. 31, 2020: net financial debt of €68 million).
In Q1 2022, WACKER continued on its growth trajectory and achieved new highs in sales and earnings. Sales grew 53 percent year over year to €2.08 billion. At €644 million, EBITDA was more than double the prior-year figure, while net income for the period more than tripled to reach €403 million.
“Despite the considerable amount of uncertainty and pressure facing the global economy, WACKER continued to operate very successfully in the first quarter of 2022,” said Hartel. That is why, according to the CEO, the company raised its full-year sales forecast from €7 billion to €7.5 billion. When presenting its quarterly results in April, WACKER also confirmed its earnings forecast and announced that EBITDA would tend toward the upper end of the projected range of between €1.2 billion and €1.5 billion. Hartel also mentioned, however, that WACKER expected strong headwinds in the remainder of the year, due to sharp increases in energy and raw-material prices. They would burden full-year EBITDA with costs of about €1.1 billion and have a marked impact on the further earnings trend in the current year, he said.
Hartel was optimistic as regards WACKER’s medium-term prospects: “We want to accelerate our growth in the years ahead and are taking proactive steps in this direction. We aim to achieve sales of over €10 billion by 2030, with an EBITDA margin of more than 20 percent.” Sustainability would play a decisive role in this, Hartel pointed out. Demand is constantly growing for sustainable products, which already comprised more than two-thirds of the portfolio, according to the CEO, and were expected in the coming years to become an even stronger driver of Group sales and earnings.
“Amid strong customer demand, we are now entering a growth phase, where we will invest in organic growth, but also in acquisitions. We have set ourselves ambitious goals: we want to double sales growth – driven by higher volumes and a better product mix – while maintaining our high profitability,” the CEO emphasized.
There has been a change in the composition of WACKER’s Supervisory Board. Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, a long-time member of the Supervisory Board, resigned at the end of the Annual Shareholder’s Meeting for reasons of age. He will be succeeded by Anna Weber, a Certified German Public Auditor and Certified German Tax Advisor with extensive business knowledge, particularly in financial accounting. After completing business studies at the University of Mannheim, Weber attained her doctoral degree at the University of Freiburg, Germany. She worked in various positions at the accounting firm Ernst & Young, and in 2014 founded her own auditing and tax advisory firm. Since 2015, Weber has been Professor of General Business Studies at Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences.
The Executive and Supervisory Boards’ other proposals were also adopted by large majorities.