Solvay 2018 first quarter results: Strong volume growth counters forex headwinds

Underlying EBITDA: €533 million -2.6% (+9% organically [1])

cover-ra-2017Click to enlarge
Brussels, May 3, 2018

  • Strong volumes across Advanced Materials and Advanced Formulations, led to organic growth in net sales of 6% and in underlying EBITDA of 9% 
  • Underlying EBITDA down 3% due to the significant adverse forex conversion impact of 8%, mainly US$, and smaller divestments leading to a 2% reduction
  • EBITDA margin sustained at 21%
  • Advanced Materials: €288 million -1% (+9% organically [1])
    • Double-digit volume growth in Specialty Polymers and Composite Materials
    • Persistent strong demand for high-performance polymers across applications, particularly in automotive
    • Order levels picking up well in aerospace composites, driven by military and commercial transport programs
  • Advanced Formulations: €118 million -7% (+10% organically [1])
    • Strong volume growth in North American oil & gas market
    • Other businesses had solid sales performances overall
  • Performance Chemicals: €177 million -8% (-1% organically [1])
    • Positive pricing in Peroxides and Coatis
    • Solid demand for soda ash continued in a context of limited margin erosion, as anticipated

Free cash flow from continuing operations: €105 million vs €168 million in 2017

  • Sustained cash generation, leading to €147 million free cash flow, including €105 million from continuing operations
  • Free cash flow to Solvay shareholders, after financial payments, of €141 million, of which €99 million from continuing operations
  • Underlying net debt slightly lower at €(5.3) billion

2018 outlook confirmed

  • Grow EBITDA by 5% to 7% organically, excluding scope and forex effects
  • Deliver free cash flow from continuing operations above 2017 level

Quote of the CEO, Jean-Pierre Clamadieu

JPC retaillé pour Q1 2018Click to enlarge

Solvay’s EBITDA grew 9% organically in the first quarter, driven by a continued rise in volumes across our Advanced Materials and Advanced Formulations clusters. As anticipated, foreign exchange headwinds were significant, yet we are encouraged by the positive underlying trends in our key markets. During the quarter, we launched a far-reaching project to simplify our organization to better focus on our customers.

Transformation update

Solvay plans to simplify its organization to adapt to its new business portfolio and changing customer base. The initiative will considerably reinforce the financial performance of the Group. 

  • Recurrent annual EBITDA contribution of some €150 million to be delivered over three years. 

  • One-time restructuring cost of €(134) million taken in the first quarter.

Press Call with CFO, Karim HAJJAR (on May 3, 2018 - 08:00 am - English)

All comparisons are made with the equivalent period of the year before, except where mentioned explicitly otherwise.

[1] Excluding forex conversion and scope effects

Solvay is an advanced materials and chemical company, committed to developing chemistry that addresses key societal challenges. Solvay innovates and partners with customers in diverse global end markets. Its products are used in planes, cars, batteries, smart and medical devices, as well as in mineral and oil and gas extraction, enhancing efficiency and sustainability. Its lightweighting materials promote cleaner mobility, its formulations optimize the use of resources and its performance chemicals improve air and water quality. Solvay is headquartered in Brussels with around 24,500 employees in 61 countries. Net sales were € 10.1 billion in 2017, with 90% from activities where Solvay ranks among the world’s top 3 leaders, resulting in an EBITDA margin of 22%. Solvay SA (SOLB.BE) is listed on Euronext Brussels and Paris (Bloomberg: SOLB.BB - Reuters: SOLB.BR) and in the United States its shares (SOLVY) are traded through a level-1 ADR program. Figures take into account the announced divestment of Polyamides.