In 2012, WACKER’s performance was marked by rising sales at its three chemical divisions, by substantially lower polysilicon prices, and by persistent pressure on silicon-wafer prices. The sales and earnings generated at WACKER’s chemical divisions could not offset the impact of the difficult situation on the photovoltaic market, which faced overcapacity, high inventory levels and ongoing consolidation pressures, with numerous solar customers experiencing financial problems. Our sales and earnings trend was primarily held back by the marked decline in polysilicon prices. Raw-material prices, which had negatively impacted earnings a year earlier, did not rise any further and, in some cases, actually sank. Positive exchange-rate effects supported sales and earnings.
Overall, our chemical divisions reported high plant-utilization levels for the entire year. At WACKER POLYMERS and WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS, we obtained either slightly higher or stable prices for our products. Business at Siltronic and WACKER POLYSILICON weakened, especially in the second half-year. When publishing our second-quarter figures, we revised downward our goal of generating some €5 billion in sales amid changes in market demand. With our third-quarter report, we specified our projections for sales and EBITDA, and revised sales downward once again.
After initially estimating capital expenditures at €1 billion, we revised this item upward by €100 million in our Q2 report. At year-end, they had remained within this target corridor.
In relation to sales, personnel expenses and depreciation were higher than planned. Raw-material costs were below plan. As absolute figures, personnel expenses and raw-material costs were below budget and depreciation was exactly as planned.
We finalized a key investment project by bringing on stream polysilicon expansion stage 9 at Nünchritz. Due to the difficult solar-market situation, we decided to extend the timeline for completing the production site in Tennessee. It is now expected to start up in mid-2015, 18 months later than originally planned.