Wacker raises 2015 sales forecast after good first quarter

09:24 AM | April 30, 2015 | Natasha Alperowicz

Wacker Chemie, after performing well in the first quarter, today said it is raising its sales forecast for 2015. The company generated sales of €1.33 billion ($1.49 billion) in the first quarter, up by more than 15% year-on-year (YOY) and almost 12% quarter-on-quarter. The main reason for this growth was higher volumes than in the previous year, especially for solar silicon and semiconductor wafers. The positive effects of a weaker euro were another decisive factor in sales' growth, the company says.
 
Ebitda, however, was down about 6%, to €267.1 million, mainly because of a nonrecurring effect. In the first quarter of 2014, Wacker restructured its contract with a solar-industry customer, as a result retaining advance payments and receiving damages. This move resulted in special income of €114.0 million. Adjusted for this special income, Wacker’s Ebitda grew by about 53% YOY. The Ebitda margin in the first quarter was 20% compared with 25% in the same quarter of last year. Net income rose 10% to €70.6 million.
 
Wacker now projects that group sales will be around 10% higher than the 2014 figure of €4.83 billion. Ebitda, adjusted on a comparable basis to exclude special income, should also rise slightly, the company says. Group net income is expected to be lower than a year ago because special income is unlikely to be as high as in 2014.
 
“Wacker made a good start to 2015 during the first quarter,” said CEO Rudolf Staudigl in Munich today. “All our divisions posted double-digit sales growth. Global demand for our products is strong. In addition, we are benefiting from positive exchange-rate effects. Given our good start, we are optimistic that business operations will continue to develop positively during the remainder of the year.”
Asia remains Wacker’s most important market, with the group generating €569.3 million, almost 43% of total sales in the quarter. In Europe, Wacker achieved sales of €297.0 million, 8% up YOY, while sales in Germany were 5% up, to €176.0 million. In the Americas, sales were up more than 33%, to €243.8 million. Other regions reported sales of €48.8 million compared with €42.7 million in the year-earlier quarter.
 
Much of Wacker’s capital expenditure focuses on increasing its hyperpure polysilicon capacity. Wacker intends to raise its overall capacity for polysilicon to about 80,000 m.t./year by 2017.
 
Wacker’s silicones business increased both its sales and earnings in the quarter. Sales rose 12%. to €474.8 million. Ebitda was up almost 38%, to €67.7 million. Wacker polymers reports sales of €284.6 million, 19% up on the year-earlier quarter. Ebitda climbed 75%, to €59.9 million. Biosolutions had sales of €49.4 million, 21% up YOY. Ebitda was €8.8 million compared with €5.4 million in the first quarter of 2014. Wacker's polysilicon unit posted sales of €289.4 million, up almost 11%. Strong volume growth and better solar-silicon prices contributed to this growth. First-quarter Ebitda was €78.7 million, 56% down YOY, mainly because of the nonrecurring effect.
 
Siltronic, Wacker’s semiconductor silicon wafers business, reports sales of €238.7 million, 17% up YOY mainly because of significantly higher volumes and positive exchange rates. Wacker is contemplating the future of Siltronic and may spin off or divest the business.