Executive Board Statement on Business Development and on the Group’s Economic Position
In 2013, WACKER’s performance was marked by stable sales at its three chemical divisions, persistent price pressure on its silicon wafers and low prices at its polysilicon business. Sales and earnings trends were dampened mainly by weak silicon-wafer prices and by lower year-on-year prices for polysilicon. All in all, price effects reduced Group sales by € 366 million.
Although polysilicon prices hovered at the weak level of late Q4 2012 for most of the year, they did not decline further. The volume trend was positive, with WACKER POLYSILICON achieving strong growth. The solar-dispute agreement between the EU and China revived the market in the second half, so that our production plants were fully utilized. At Siltronic, business was impeded by the weak semiconductor market, declining prices and by negative exchange-rate effects. The devaluation of the yen benefited our Japanese competitors. Despite this situation, we succeeded in improving Siltronic’s EBITDA through cost-saving and productivity measures. At our chemical divisions, we posted volume gains, but sales performance was dampened by price pressure on standard products and by negative exchange-rate effects. WACKER SILICONES expanded its market share and is now the second-largest silicone producer in the world.
Our sales expectations of some € 4.6 billion were revised down to € 4.5 billion with the publication of the Q2 interim report. Our EBITDA forecast remained unchanged.
Personnel expenses, in relation to sales, were lower due to cost-saving measures. Energy costs came in below our target value. Raw-material costs showed a flat price trend and were also below our target value. Depreciation increased compared with the previous year and with our target.
As announced, investments were down by more than half, and amounted to € 503.7 million. Lower investments and tight inventory management meant that the debt level did not rise as much as projected at the start of 2013. Net financial debt for 2013 totaled € 792.2 million, well below € 1 billion. Net cash flow developed better than expected. Here, too, lower investments and our inventory management had a positive impact. Equity was almost unchanged, with an equity ratio at a high level of 34.7 percent.