Overall Statement by the Executive Board on Underlying Conditions
In 2020, economic and political risks rose significantly, primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, global economic growth slowed markedly. Aside from China, every major economy reported a decrease in economic activity. The last time a global downturn had been so strong was during the financial crisis of 2009.
WACKER’s chemical business delivered a solid performance in 2020 given such difficult underlying conditions. In the second quarter of 2020, WACKER posted an especially steep sales contraction. A recovery began early in the third quarter and continued in the fourth quarter. Sales at WACKER SILICONES were well below the year-earlier figure. WACKER POLYMERS, on the other hand, posted only slightly lower sales. At WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS, sales edged up. The operating result for our chemical divisions was slightly lower year over year. The main reason was the fall in average prices for standard silicone products, which dampened EBITDA at WACKER SILICONES. EBITDA at WACKER POLYMERS and WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS rose. In our polysilicon business, sales grew slightly due to higher volumes. WACKER POLYSILICON posted significantly lower earnings year over year due to the special income from insurance compensation recognized in 2019. Measured on a comparable basis, its operating result improved significantly.
Due to the pandemic, sales declined in the three major regions: Europe, Asia and the Americas. Sales fell by a mid-single-digit percentage year over year in Europe and Asia and by a high-single-digit percentage in the Americas.