Operating EBITDA for the Group grows, despite Decline in Sales, particularly in North America
Global chemical distributor Brenntag AG (Essen, Germany) has published the annual results for 2020 today. Sales declined, but Operating Gross Profit for the group and in most geographic regions increased, except for North America. Earning per share remained constant at EUR 3.02 per share. Brenntag is planning for an 8.0% increase of the dividend to EUR 1.35 per share. This is equivalent to a payout ratio of 44.7% of the Profit after Tax attributable to Brenntag’s shareholders. The dividend payment is subject to approval by the AGM in June.
Brenntag’s sales in 2020 were EUR 11’775.8 mn globally , -8.2% as reported and -6.0% on a constant currency basis, when compared with last year. (Operating) Gross Profit was EUR 2’850.4 mn, an increase of 1.0% as reported, and +3.3% on a constant currency basis. Overall, the group reported an Operating EBITDA of EUR 1’057.5 mn, up 5.6% from the EUR 1’001.5 mn in 2019 as reported (an increase of 8.3 % on a constant currency basis). Both, Profit before Tax at EUR 663.3mn (EUR 633.4% in 2019) and Profit after Tax at EUR 473.8 mn (EUR 469.2 mn in 2019), remained virtually flat. This results in Earnings per Share attributable to Brenntag shareholders of EUR 3.02 per share, the same level as reached in 2019.
Net Working Capital decreased significantly from EUR 1’767.7 mn at the end of 2019 to EUR 1’346.6 mn at the end of last year. Based on this development, working capital turns improved from 7.0x to 7.3x during 2020. At a level of EUR 1’054.6 mn in 2020, free cash flow was up 26.0% from the EUR 837.3 mn realised in 2019, mostly driven by the reduction in Net Working Capital, Brenntag said.
Sales were impacted by a very challenging macro-economic environment and extraordinary economic conditions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Brenntag said it went into “crisis management mode” early on in the pandemic and managed to maintain uninterrupted supply chains throughout 2020.
In EMEA sales declined by 4.0% (-2.7% on a constant currency basis) to EUR 5’027.5 mn. On the Operating EBITDA level, the EMEA region increased significantly by 17.1% as reported to EUR 475.9 mn (+19.0% on a constant currency basis). Well performing sectors were Personal Care, Cleaning, Pharma and Coatings & Construction, Brenntag said.
North America suffered from soft demand, particularly in Oil & Gas and Lubricants, with sales declining by 12.5% (10.6% on a constant currency basis) to EUR 4’191.0. The region reported also a decrease of Operating EBITDA, -8.5% to EUR 434.4 mn (-6.6 % on a constant currency basis).
Latin America reached an Operating EBITDA of EUR 63.5 mn, up 13.5% as reported from EUR 55.9 mn (+26.9.0% on a constant currency basis), despite declining sales at EUR 819.4 mn, down 4.1% as reported (+6.0% on a constant currency basis).
Asia Pacific contributed an increased Operating EBITDA of EUR 123.8 mn, up 22.5% from the EUR 101.1 mn reported for 2019 (+25.9 % on a constant currency basis. Brenntag said that “after being hit by the pandemic early in the year, the Asia Pacific region recovered sequentially, with particularly China seeing a quick and strong recovery. Almost all countries and many industries contributed to the very good results.”
As part of the comprehensive transformation program dubbed “Project Brenntag”, which was launched by CEO Christain Kohlpaintner in mid-2020, the company has started to follow a new operating model based on two global divisions named Brenntag Essentials and Brenntag Specialties. Amongst other things, the project comprises programs for the site network optimisation (a reduction of the number of sites globally by 100, of which 30 were closed already in 2020) and a workforce reduction initiative (headcount reduction in 2020 was ca. 200 FTEs). These, as well as other efficiency measures, are expected to generate a total increase of EUR 220 mn in Operating EBITDA by FY2023, ramping up year by year. In 2020 the initial contribution was approx. EUR 15 mn.
Providing an outlook for 2021, Brenntag said it expects an Operating EBITDA for the current year between EUR 1’080 and 1’180 mn, assuming that exchange rates remain stable. The group sees itself operating in a macroeconomic environment of considerable uncertainty, particularly in the first half of the year. The outlook also includes expected efficiency gains from the restructuring measures being currently implemented as part of Project Brenntag and full-year contributions from several acquistions closed during 2020, the announcement said.
Additional details can be obtained via the links below:
Source: Brenntag press release, earnings call and annual report; DistriConsult analysis
HGE – DCG / 10.03.2021