2018 Full Year Results: 5.3% organic growth, sustained strong margins
Underlying EBITDA €2,230 million +0% +5.3% organically
- Full year sales and underlying EBITDA grew organically by +5.7% and +5.3% respectively, driven by higher volumes in each operating segment and sustained net pricing. Including adverse forex and scope effects, total underlying EBITDA was stable.
- EBITDA margin sustained at 22%.
€1,197 million -0.4%
€521 million -0.4%
€729 million -2.7%
Underlying EPS  from continuing operations €8.48 +12%
- The -17% reduction in net financial charges reflected deleveraging and continued optimization of Solvay’s capital structure.
- Underlying tax rate was -1.4 percentage points lower at 26% for the year.
- Total underlying EPS  of €10.57 increased +16% versus 2017 primarily driven by the reduction in financial charges.
4th Quarter Profit
Underlying EBITDA €506 million +2.5% +3.6% organically
- Fourth quarter sales grew organically by +4.3% driven mainly by pricing. Volume growth in aerospace composites as well as in peroxides was partly offset by the anticipated drop in smart devices as well as the significant decline in the shale oil and gas market. Automotive sales remained supportive but signs of weakening were observed toward the end of the year.
- Fourth quarter underlying EBITDA grew +3.6% organically, with higher prices not fully offsetting an increase in variable costs.
Full Year Cash
Free cash flow from continuing operations €830 million vs €782 million in 2017
Strong cash generation in the fourth quarter, leading to total year free cash flow from continued operations of €830 million, up +6.1% vs 2017.
Free cash flow to Solvay shareholders of €725 million was +56% higher, supported both by the strong cash flow from discontinued operations and by the reduction in financial charges, leading to an operational deleveraging of €353 million of net debt, after dividend payments.
Full Year Return
CFROI 6.9% +0.0pp
- CFROI was stable at 6.9%, well in the value creation zone, above WACC of 6.5%.
Dividend recommended €3.75 +4.2%
- Total dividend recommended of €3.75 gross per share. This leads to final gross dividend of €2.31 payable on May 23, 2019, following the payment of the interim gross dividend of €1.44 in January.
CEO Jean-Pierre Clamadieu:
In 2018 Solvay once again delivered organic EBITDA growth exceeding 5%, thanks to growth in applications for sustainable mobility and resource efficiency. This performance and the Group’s transformation have led us to outperform on all of our financial and extra-financial mid-term targets set in 2016. Underlying EPS grew annually by +13% on average in the same period and free cash flow to shareholders rose from €148 to €725 million.
My mandate as CEO of Solvay will end on March 1 and I am pleased to pass on the baton to Dr. Ilham Kadri, who will begin a new chapter in this company’s extraordinary history, building on the great potential of its teams and portfolio, and taking Solvay to the next level.
2019 Outlook 
In line with fourth quarter trends, Solvay anticipates supportive market conditions to continue in most key markets, though growth is likely to be moderated by conditions in automotive, electronics and oil & gas. In this context we remain focused on further developing our growth platforms.
Solvay thereby currently expects 2019 EBITDA to grow modestly and to be back-ended, with organic growth in the first quarter broadly flat, relative to the strong 2018 performance. Meanwhile, we will continue to focus on cost discipline and on deleveraging the balance sheet with continued solid operational free cash flow delivery.
 Excluding forex conversion and scope effects.
 Earnings per share, basis calculation.
 A more detailed outlook can be found on page 12 of the financial report. The 2019 EBITDA growth compares to the pro forma 2018 EBITDA of €2,330 million for the full year and €558 million for the first quarter, following the implementation of IFRS16, and excludes forex conversion and scope effects. The full pro forma P&L and key figures can be found on page 34 of the financial report.
Solvay is an advanced materials and specialty chemicals company, committed to developing chemistry that addresses key societal challenges. Solvay innovates and partners with customers worldwide in many diverse 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 27,000 employees in 62 countries. Net sales were €10.3 billion in 2018, 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. (Financial figures take into account the planned divestment of Polyamides.)