Executive Board Statement on Business Development and on the Group’s Economic Position
Operations at WACKER during 2015 were influenced by volume growth in all five business divisions and favorable exchange-rate effects. Advance payments retained and damages received in connection with terminated long-term delivery contracts with solar-sector customers were another factor with a favorable effect on earnings. On the whole, the Group achieved its annual forecast with regard to all its key performance indicators.
Chemical sales continued to rise, primarily due to volume gains and favorable exchange-rate effects. As a result, the chemical divisions’ EBITDA was substantially higher than in the prior year. At WACKER POLYSILICON, lower prices weighed on sales. Thanks to continuing healthy demand, polysilicon production ran at full capacity for the entire year. Siltronic achieved a considerable increase in semiconductor sales, with higher volumes and positive exchange-rate effects more than making up for lower semiconductor prices. EBITDA, too, was marginally higher than in the prior year; currency-hedging expenses weighed on EBITDA. Measures to enhance productivity and reduce costs had a positive impact on earnings.
In absolute terms, personnel expenses were higher year over year, but accounted for a lower percentage of sales than in the prior year. Raw-material costs went up in absolute terms, but were lower year over year as a proportion of sales. Energy costs, too, were lower than our target figure. Depreciation was somewhat lower year over year and somewhat below our target figure.
At € 2.79 billion, Group equity was € 848.6 million higher than at December 31, 2014, the main reasons being the good net income for the year, adjustments to pension provisions that were not recognized in the income statement and the IPO of Siltronic AG. The equity ratio increased from 28.0 percent to 38.5 percent. The Group’s net financial debt developed better then expected, mainly because of the proceeds from the IPO of Siltronic AG in June 2015. Net financial debt amounted to € 1.07 billion as of December 31, 2015 and was essentially on a par with year-end 2014. We increased our investments during the year: at € 834.0 million, they were well above the level of depreciation. Net cash flow developed as expected and, at € 22.5 million, was substantially lower than in the prior year.