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Strong performance in Recycling offset COVID-19 impact in Catalysis and Energy & Surface Technologies
Against the backdrop of severe disruptions to society and business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Umicore demonstrated its resilience to extreme shocks and the complementarities of its business activities. In the first half of 2020 Umicore achieved financial results broadly in line with those of the same period in 2019, with a very strong performance in Recycling offsetting the impact of the downturn in the automotive industry on the results of Catalysis and Energy & Surface Technologies.
Umicore revenues for the first 6 months amounted to € 1.6 billion (-4% year on year) and the adjusted EBIT1 amounted to € 243 million, up 1% compared to the first half of 2019. Adjusted EBITDA increased 5% to € 376 million.
Revenues were down in Catalysis, albeit less than the contraction in the global car market, as Umicore continued to outperform in China. Due to car OEMs assembly line shutdowns, Umicore had to stop production at the majority of its automotive catalyst plants for several weeks and this had a severe impact on earnings.
Revenues in Energy & Surface Technologies were impacted by a contraction of the global EV market as well as lower activity levels in other key end-markets. The revenue and volume drop, in combination with higher fixed costs related to the recent and ongoing expansions, had a significant negative operating leverage effect.
Recycling recorded strong results reflecting increased activity levels, higher metal prices and favorable trading conditions. In addition, Precious Metals Refining benefitted from a supportive supply environment and a higher availability of the Hoboken smelter compared to the first half of 2019, when the smelter underwent an extended planned maintenance shutdown of 7 weeks.
Umicore’s immediate response to the COVID-19 crisis
Keeping our people healthy and ensuring safe working conditions
Umicore introduced strict hygiene and other precautionary measures in its facilities worldwide in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and a dedicated task force continues to monitor its operations globally with a focus on protecting employees’ health.
Several measures were launched at the beginning of the pandemic to reduce costs, optimize working capital and delay certain investments. Umicore rapidly adjusted its production capacity where needed and furloughed part of its workforce where applicable. Meanwhile, all production plants have resumed operations and most furloughed employees have returned to work. Umicore’s Supervisory Board also decided to reduce the 2019 dividend to € 0.375 per share, as opposed to the initial proposal of € 0.75 per share. Swift and consistent implementation of these measures, combined with strong cash flows in Recycling, allowed Umicore to generate free cashflows from operations of € 108 million, well up compared to previous years, despite reduced activity levels.
Umicore’s longer-term response to the COVID-19 crisis
Further strengthening of funding structure and liquidity
Over the period, Umicore further strengthened and diversified its funding structure by issuing € 500 million in convertible bonds due 2025 and concluding an 8-year loan agreement with the European Investment Bank for an amount of € 125 million. Umicore has ample liquidity with € 1.2 billion of cash and equivalents on the balance sheet at 30 June 2020 and approximately € 1 billion of additional committed undrawn credit lines from core relationship banks. Its long-term debt profile has no material maturities prior to 2023.
Reassessing operations and value of assets
Considering the unforeseen disruptions caused by COVID-19 in several of its key end-markets, Umicore is reassessing its production footprint as well as the carrying value of certain assets. As part of this assessment, Umicore decided to consolidate its North American automotive catalyst production activities in Burlington, Canada and discontinue its automotive catalyst production in Tulsa, USA. Umicore has also impaired certain tangible and intangible assets. As Umicore continues to reassess its footprint and monitor the value of certain assets, additional cash and non-cash adjustments may be required in the second half of the year of a similar or somewhat higher size than those booked in the first half.
Revenues of € 1.6 billion (-4%)
Adjusted EBITDA of € 376 million (+5%)
Adjusted EBIT of € 243 million (+1%)
EBIT adjustments of – € 72 million, primarily comprising impairments and restructuring charges
ROCE of 10.9% (compared to 12.3% in first half 2019)
Adjusted net profit (Group share) of € 148 million (-2%) and adjusted EPS of € 0.62 (-2%)
Cashflow from operations of € 275 million (€ 308 million in first half 2019), including a € 72 million increase in working capital requirements from higher precious metals and PGM prices; free cashflow from operations2 of € 108 million (€ 50 million in first half 2019)
Capital expenditure plans were adjusted in the beginning of the pandemic and capex spend amounted to € 152 million (€ 241 million in first half of 2019)
Net debt at € 1,349 million, down from € 1,443 million at the end of 2019. This corresponds to a Net debt/ LTM adj. EBITDA ratio of 1.75x.
The Supervisory Board decided to pay out an interim dividend of € 0.25 per share on 25 August.
Growth drivers intact in clean mobility materials and recycling
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented and sudden shock to the automotive industry and the overall economy globally. Despite short-term challenges and limited visibility on the course of the market recovery, the long-term drivers supporting Umicore’s growth strategy remain intact.
While the global EV market is facing significant short-term headwinds, the mid-term outlook for electrification remains very promising. The current crisis does not change the need for the world to move towards a more sustainable path, as evidenced by the various government stimuli for cleaner mobility and green initiatives, in China and Europe in particular, Umicore, with its broad materials technology portfolio and production footprint, can play a key role in enabling the transition to zero-emission mobility.
In addition, tightening emission norms continue to be on the agenda in key regions, confirming the need for more complex automotive catalyst technologies going forward.
Finally, the closed-loop business model of Umicore offers a much needed answer to resource scarcity and a path towards a more circular economy.
With its portfolio of complementary activities, prudent liquidity management and disciplined investment approach, Umicore is well equipped to maintain its strategic course and emerge stronger from the current crisis.
Given the current evolution of the pandemic and the uncertainty it creates in Umicore’s key end-markets, it remains impossible to provide a reliable quantified outlook for 2020. Notwithstanding the very limited market visibility, Umicore continues to expect its full year adjusted EBIT to be below the levels reached in 2019, with the adjusted EBIT in Catalysis and Energy & Surface Technologies well below the levels of 2019 and the adjusted EBIT in Recycling well above the levels of 2019.
Based on the market developments in the first half and recent trends, Umicore continues to expect global car production to be down by approximately 25% for the full year. In this scenario, revenues and adjusted EBIT in Catalysis in the second half would be well above those of the first half. However, the ongoing uncertainty caused by the pandemic and the weak consumer confidence make it impossible to predict market developments.
In Energy & Surface Technologies Umicore expects inventory corrections in the rechargeable battery supply chain in the second half to exacerbate the impact of weak trading conditions across business units. Adjusted EBIT in the second half is therefore likely to be below the levels of the first half.
In Recycling, the first half performance should not be extrapolated to the second half, with the Hoboken smelter undergoing a 4-week planned maintenance shutdown and seasonality effects in other businesses.
“Despite the brutal effects on society and industry of the COVID-19 pandemic, Umicore showed great resilience and turned in a solid performance in the first half of 2020, demonstrating the complementarities of our businesses and showing the agility and determination of our workforce. I would like to express my immense gratitude to all those who have fought the pandemic on the front lines as well as to all Umicore employees who have adjusted to very challenging conditions in order to ensure the best possible business continuity. Umicore has ensured healthy and safe working conditions for its personnel and protected the financial health of the company with cost savings, reassessment of our industrial footprint, and increased liquidity. Our long-term strategic drivers remain intact and I am confident we will return to growth in clean mobility and recycling as we emerge from the pandemic.”
CEO of Umicore
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21 August 2020 Ex-interim dividend trading date
24 August 2020 Record date for the interim dividend
25 August 2020 Payment date for the interim dividend
Umicore is a global materials technology and recycling group. It focuses on application areas where its expertise in materials science, chemistry and metallurgy makes a real difference. Its activities are organised in three business groups: Catalysis, Energy & Surface Technologies and Recycling. Each business group is divided into market-focused business units offering materials and solutions that are at the cutting edge of new technological developments and essential to everyday life.
Umicore generates the majority of its revenues and dedicates most of its R&D efforts to clean mobility materials and recycling. Umicore’s overriding goal of sustainable value creation is based on an ambition to develop, produce and recycle materials in a way that fulfils its mission: materials for a better life.
Umicore’s industrial and commercial operations as well as R&D activities are located across the world to best serve its global customer base. The Group generated revenues (excluding metal) of € 1.6 billion (turnover of € 10.0 billion) in the first half of 2020 and currently employs just below 11,000 people.
1 In order to align with the ESMA guidelines on Alternative Performance Measures (“APMs”) Umicore is renaming the reference of “recurring” in its APMs as “adjusted” and the reference of “non-recurring” as “adjustments”. The definitions of the concerned APMs remain unchanged and can be consulted on https://www.umicore.com/en/investors/financial-data/glossary/. For example, recurring EBIT is henceforth called “adjusted EBIT” and non-recurring EBIT is henceforth called “EBIT adjustments”.
2 Free cashflow from operations = Cashflow generated from operations – capex – capitalized development expenses. Note: All comparisons are made with the first half of 2019, unless mentioned otherwise