In 2012, the global economic situation was marked by the ongoing euro crisis. Germany largely escaped the negative impacts, achieving some growth. To a certain extent, the crisis in Europe also dampened economic momentum in other countries around the world. The emerging economies of Brazil, China and India could not repeat the pace of expansion seen in previous years. The second half of 2012 saw GDP growth slowing further. During the first weeks of 2013, the trend did not change significantly. Not immune to the weaker economic trend, WACKER especially felt the impact in two divisions. At Siltronic, persistent price pressure and sluggish demand impeded business, particularly in the fourth quarter, when revenues experienced a further decline. In the photovoltaic industry, the whole of 2012 was marked by stiff competition and by persistent price pressure due to excess capacity. The necessary consolidation is not over. This situation has weighed on business at WACKER POLYSILICON.
Despite the weaker economic environment, WACKER’s three chemical divisions have developed positively. Pressure from WACKER’s main raw materials has eased somewhat. Overall, raw-material prices have stopped rising and are, in some cases, slightly lower than a year earlier. At WACKER SILICONES, the division’s broad product range – extending into numerous customer sectors – delivered some growth. Significant sales increases were posted by WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS and WACKER POLYMERS. At WACKER POLYMERS, both dispersions and dispersible polymer powders generated growth. In dispersions, we benefit from the increasing substitution of styrene-butadiene with less expensive ethylene-based dispersions, especially in the carpet industry.
The euro crisis and the solar industry’s continued shift in sales toward Asia also left their mark on our sales performance by region. In Europe, sales decreased by 8.1 percent. The Americas saw sales edging lower while Asia posted another increase. Asia’s share of total sales grew further and is now at 40.2 percent.