At € 5.3 billion, Wacker's sales for 2015 are some 10 percent higher than the year before. The increase mainly stemmed from higher volumes and positive exchange-rate effects.
Munich/Germany – Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in 2015 reached € 1,048.8 million (2014: € 1,042.3 million). The corresponding EBITDA margin was 19.8 percent (2014: 21.6 percent). Despite the fact that special solar-sector income from advance payments retained and damages received from customers came in significantly lower year over year, EBITDA was essentially on a par with 2014. In full-year 2015, these special-income items amounted to € 137.6 million (2014: € 206.3 million). Adjusted for this effect, EBITDA reached € 911.2 million in the reporting year (2014: €836.0 million). That was a gain of 9 percent. The Group’s earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) advanced to € 473.4 million in 2015 (2014: € 443.3), adding 7 percent. On the bottom line, Wacker closed 2015 with net income of € 241.8 million (2014: € 195.4 million), a rise of about 24 percent.
In 2016, Wacker is confident to maintain its good business performance in a volatile environment. For the full year, it aims to lift its sales slightly. Group EBITDA should also advance slightly year over year, when adjusted to exclude solar-sector special income from damages received and from terminated contractual and delivery relationships with customers. This trend will be supported by Wacker’s stable chemical business with diversified applications, which is projected to expand further in 2016.
Group net income, though, is likely to be significantly lower than in 2015 because of higher depreciation. Other factors weighing on earnings include start-up costs at the new Charleston site in Tennessee (USA), mainly during the first half-year, as well as lower year-over-year prices for polysilicon and reduced special income.
Staudigl Is Satisfied with the Sales Development
“Our chemical business, which accounts for almost two-thirds of our sales and half of our EBITDA, is continuing its very encouraging trend. Since January, we have seen prices for polysilicon stabilizing, and even picking up slightly. In our semiconductor business, our priorities are to enhance our competitiveness and to continue working intensively on cutting costs. Siltronic anticipates cost-savings of between € 30 million and € 35 million in 2016. Operational excellence, a strict focus on customer needs, and innovation continue to be key strategic areas for securing our Group’s success,” said CEO Rudolf Staudigl at Wacker's financial statement press conference in Munich/Germany.
In 2015, capital expenditures at the Group reached € 834.0 million (2014: € 572.2 million), an increase of almost 46 percent. The corresponding 2015 investment ratio, based on Group sales, was 16 percent (2014: 12 percent). Construction of the new polysilicon site at Charleston, Tennessee (USA) comprised the main part of Wacker’s investing activities in 2015. About € 550 million – or some 65 percent of all investment spending – went toward this project in 2015. Wacker started commissioning the Charleston facilities at year-end, as planned, and produced its first batches of polysilicon there in early 2016.
Another investment priority in 2015 was the expansion of production capacities for polymer products and silicones to support chemical-business growth. Expansion projects included a new dispersion reactor at Calvert City with an annual capacity of 85,000 metric tons, and a production plant for dispersible polymer powders at Burghausen with an annual capacity of 50,000 metric tons. Another project, also at Burghausen, was the expansion of a plant for modified siloxanes. This intermediate for silicones is used in a variety of end products, such as silicone fluids, emulsions and resins.
Business Divisions at a Glance
Sales at Wacker Silicones gained 12 percent in 2015. They came in at € 1.94 billion (2014: € 1.73 billion). This increase was chiefly fueled by higher volumes, positive exchange-rate effects and slightly improved prices. In 2015, Wacker Polymers posted further sales growth. Sales increased by over 11 percent to € 1.19 billion (2014: € 1.06 billion). Wacker Biosolutions posted substantial sales growth, too. The division increased its sales by about 12 percent to € 197.1 million (2014: € 176.2 million). Volume gains and favorable exchange-rate effects were the main factors driving this growth. At Wacker Polysilicones, sales edged up in 2015. They advanced over 1 percent to € 1.06 billion (2014: € 1.05 billion).
At its chemical business, Wacker sees good prospects for further growth in 2016. It expects sales at each of its three chemical divisions to climb by a mid-single-digit percentage. For silicone and polymer products, growth will be driven by every business segment. In Wacker’s polysilicon business, volume growth is forecast for 2016, fueled by the new production capacities at Charleston in Tennessee (USA). The Group predicts that the photovoltaic market will continue expanding.
In its semiconductor business, Wacker projects sales to edge down slightly in 2016 amid lower market prices. For 300 mm silicon wafers, the Group predicts that the market will grow further. Overall, Wacker expects group sales to grow by a low-single-digit percentage in 2016.