Imerys: 2019 results in line with forecast and dividend maintained
- Revenue down -3.8% at constant scope and exchange rates, in contracting industrial markets, especially in the second half of the year
- Current EBITDA margin at 17.6%1 and current operating margin at 10.1%1 : positive price mix (+2.2%) and reduction in fixed costs and overheads
- Solid cash flow generation: net current free operating cash flow reached €348 million1
- Proposed dividend per share maintained level at €2.15, with an alternative payment option in the form of new shares
Patrick Kron, Chairman of the Board of Directors and interim Chief Executive Officer, said:
“Conditions in industrial markets have deteriorated, particularly in Europe, which has led to a significant drop in sales volumes, severely impacting the Group’s performance, even if the positive price mix and cost reductions helped to mitigate this impact. Despite those difficult economic conditions, Imerys improved its strong cash flow. As we enter into 2020, in an uncertain market environment, we will continue to prioritize cost reduction and cash generation by tightly managing our capital expenditure and working capital requirement. The Board of Directors, who’s confident in the Group’s fundamentals and development prospects, has decided to propose to maintain the dividend to €2.15 per share. It has also decided to offer to shareholders to opt for a dividend payment in shares in order to increase the Group's room for maneuver to seize development opportunities while maintaining a solid financial structure. Alessandro Dazza, who will become Chief Executive Officer on February 17, 2020, will apply his leadership skills and his deep understanding of Imerys and its business to successfully complete the necessary transformation that has been undertaken and pursue this profitable growth strategy.”
On February 12, 2019, Imerys’ Board of Directors examined the definitive, audited financial statements for 2019. They will be submitted for approval by the Shareholders’ General Meeting on May 4, 2020. The report certifying the consolidated financial statements will be published once the Management Report prepared by the Board of Directors has undergone its final review and the procedures required to file the Universal Registration Document have been completed. All 2018 financial data included in this press release are presented excluding the Roofing division.
A simplified, more efficient customer-focused organization
The new organization announced in December 2018 is now implemented throughout the entire Group. With fewer management layers, it is more market-oriented and helps to respond more effectively to customer needs. The new organization leverages the benefits of a broad portfolio of mineral specialties and expands opportunities to cross-sell several complementary mineral products. It is supplemented with an operational excellence program.
The simplified organization is made up of two segments, grouping five business areas built around the Group’s core markets:
- The Performance Minerals segment brings together three geographic business areas – Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Americas and Asia-Pacific (APAC) – serving the plastics, paints & coatings, filtration, ceramics, renewable energy and paper & board markets.
- The High Temperature Materials & Solutions segment regroups two business areas: High Temperature Solutions, and Refractory, Abrasives & Construction serving the refractory, foundry, iron & steel, abrasives and building chemistry markets.
In addition, product innovation was decentralized to each of these five business areas to ensure it is more effectively oriented toward customer needs in the markets supplied. Technical support teams were also expanded as a result. In order to maximize economies of scale, the Group has put in place specialized support departments, deploying shared service centers, in particular in finance and human resources. Furthermore, centralizing purchasing activities will enable the Group to improve its efficiency by significantly reducing the number of suppliers and negotiating payment terms.
The new organization will enable Imerys to achieve its full organic growth potential and further improve its competitive position to boost sustained value creation.
Alessandro Dazza, new Chief Executive Officer at Imerys from February 17, 2020
On October 21, 2019, the Imerys Board of Directors asked its Chairman, Patrick Kron, to take over the role of Chief Executive Officer on an interim basis. On December 17, 2019, based on the proposal of the Appointments Committee, the Board of Directors decided to:
- once again separate the offices of Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer;
- appoint Alessandro Dazza to the position of Chief Executive Officer;
- ask Patrick Kron to continue his role as Chairman of the Board of Directors.
These decisions will come into effect on February 17, 2020, the date at which Alessandro Dazza joins Imerys.
A leaner and renewed Board of Directors
At its meeting on February 12, 2020, Imerys’ Board of Directors also agreed the draft resolutions that will be submitted for approval by the Shareholders' General Meeting on May 4, 2020. These draft resolutions include, in particular, the nomination of two new Board Directors, Mrs Annette Messemer and Véronique Saubot, following the departure of Mrs Odile Desforges, and the non renewal of the terms of offices of Mrs. Marion Guillou and Martina Merz. The Board of Directors would consequently be reduced to 10 members (plus two directors representing the employees).
Continued discussion as part of the U.S. talc litigation
The North American talc subsidiaries, which were deconsolidated on February 13, 2019 (with a negative impact on revenue and current operating income in 2019 of €126.1 million and €19.1 million, respectively), are now working to permanently resolve all talc-related litigation in the region under the legal protection of Chapter 11. They have entered into negotiation with the representatives of existing and future claimants over the business continuity plan, the approval of which by the competent jurisdiction will settle past talc-related liabilities in the U.S.
Dividend per share maintained at €2.15, with an alternative payment option of part or all in form of new shares
The Board of Directors will propose the Shareholders’ General Meeting of May 4, 2020 to approve the payment of a €2.15 dividend per share, which is level on the dividend paid in 2019 and represents 61% of net income from current operations, Group share.
Subject to approval by the Shareholders’ General Meeting, the Board of Directors has decided to offer Imerys shareholders the choice between receiving part or all of the dividend payment (i) in cash and/or (ii) in new shares of the Company. The price of new ordinary shares issued as payment for the dividend will be set, in accordance with the provisions of article L. 232-19 of the French Commercial Code (Code de commerce), at 95% of the average Imerys share price on the Euronext Paris market over the 20 trading days prior to the Shareholders’ General Meeting, minus the amount of the dividend per share.
Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (GBL), the Group’s majority shareholder owning a 53.9% interest, has indicated its intention to opt for a dividend in shares for the totality of its holdings.
COMMENTARY ON THE 2019 ANNUAL RESULTS
In 2019, revenue fell 3.8% year on year at constant scope and exchange rates. Market conditions, especially in the automotive, industrial equipment and steel markets in Europe, as well as the paper industry in the U.S. in particular, considerably deteriorated throughout the year, causing Group sales volumes to decrease -6.1% (€277.8 million). In this context, Imerys maintained a positive +2.2% price mix (+€102.7 million).
Revenue also included a positive currency effect of +€96.9 million, primarily as a result of the rise of the U.S. dollar to euro exchange rate. The scope effect was negative in 2019, representing -€157.3 million (-3.4%), the majority of which (-€126.1 million) was due to the deconsolidation of the North American talc subsidiaries after they filed for the protection of the “U.S. Chapter 11” legal procedure on February 13, 2019. The balance (-€31.2 million) corresponds to the disposal of non-core assets.
Current operating income
The year-on-year fall in current operating income recognized in 2019 was due to the impact of reduced volumes (-€144.5 million), which the positive price mix and savings achieved only partially offset. The positive price mix, which corresponded to +€100.3 million, continued to easily cover the -€77.8 million rise the Group absorbed in variable costs, almost half of which in raw materials, and to a lesser extent, energy and transportation costs.
The +€31.3 million saving in fixed costs and overheads, net of inflation, came from the following areas:
- +€28.0 million in savings translating the initial gains of implementing the Group’s transformation plan (streamlined workforce and optimized purchasing processes), in line with the €100 million target by 2022 announced on the Capital Markets Day held on June 13, 2019.
- +€28.5 million in cost reductions generated by industrial measures intended to adapt the Group’s cost structure to the challenging market conditions currently prevailing.
- +€11.9 million in savings resulting from the positive impact of decisions taken last year in ceramic proppants and operations in Namibia.
The savings more than compensate the -€27.0 million increase in fixed costs and overheads due to an estimated inflation and the rise in depreciation and amortization (a -€10.2 million outflow after taking into account the +€5.2 million improvement recognized in relation to IFRS 16).
The drop in current operating income also includes the effect of the deconsolidation of the North American talc subsidiaries (-€19.1 million) and the closure of the wollastonite plant in Willsboro, U.S., in the first half of the year (-€13.7 million). The currency effect was positive at +€21.3 million. IFRS 16 also had a positive impact of +€5.2 million on current operating income in 2019.
In a context of considerably reduced sales volumes, current operating margin slipped to 10.1% for 2019 as a whole, compared with 12.2% in 2018.
Net income from current operations
Net income from current operations, Group share, totaled €276.9 million, down -22.4% on 2018 (down -22.0% before taking into account IFRS 16), but in line with the forecast communicated by the Group in October 2019. Net financial income rose to -€43.7 million in 2019, up +€16.5 million year on year, after the €56 million private placement denominated in Japanese yen that was due to mature in 2033 was fully repaid in March 2019. The income tax expense of -€113.8 million corresponds to an effective tax rate of 28.8%, compared with 28.9% in 2018.
Net income from current operations, Group share, per share shrunk -22.3% to €3.50.
Other income and expenses, after tax, came out as an overall expense of -€155.7 million in 2019, including:
- -€84.4 million in costs to implement the transformation program;
- -€46.3 million in depreciation and amortization of non-core assets;
- -€25.0 million in restructuring costs and other exceptional items. These include in particular -€7.4 million due to the deconsolidation of the North American talc subsidiaries and -€6.4 million for the temporary closure of the plant in Willsboro, U.S.
Consequently, net income, Group share totaled €121.2 million in 2019. As a reminder, net income, Group share, of €559.6 million in 2018 was due to the impact of the capital gain coming from the disposal of the Roofing activity.
Net current free operating cash flow
After taking into account IFRS 16, Imerys generated solid net current free operating cash flow of +€347.9 million in 2019, up +21.7%, through careful management in a context of limited growth. This figure included:
- €291.7 million in industrial capital expenditure (representing 6.7% of revenue), down -€41.3 million year on year;
- significant improvement in the operating working capital requirement (up +€52.1 million) compared to last year, in particular through better inventory management.
Furthermore, the decrease in net financial debt compared with 2018 (-€109.4 million post IFRS 16) takes into account the following main expenses:
- -€203.8 million in dividends paid in May 2019 and shares bought back;
- -€75.4 million in other non-recurring income and expenses;
- -€68.3 million in acquisitions and disposals, of which:
- -€43.1 million in acquisitions;
- -€25.8 million from the deconsolidation of the cash of the North American talc subsidiaries.
At December 31, 2019, net financial debt totaled €1,419.5 million before taking into account IFRS 16, which corresponds to a ratio between net financial debt and current EBITDA of 2.1x. Lease liabilities that come within IFRS 16 (right-of-use assets) equaled €265.4 million at December 31, 2019, resulting in net financial debt of €1.685.0 million after taking into account IFRS 16, which corresponds to a ratio between net financial debt and current EBITDA of 2.2x.
The Group’s solid financial structure is rated Baa2, outlook negative, by Moody’s (since January 23, 2020) and BBB, under negative credit watch, by Standard and Poor’s (since November 5, 2019).
At December 31, 2019, Imerys’ bond financing amounted to €1,924 million with an average maturity of 5.2 years. The Group also benefits from €1,260 million in bilateral credit lines. As a result, the Group’s financial resources total €3,184 million with an average maturity of 4 years.
COMMENTARY BY SEGMENT
Performance Minerals (54% of consolidated revenue)
Revenue generated by the Performance Minerals segment fell -5.6% in 2019 on a reported basis. This takes into account a significant negative scope effect of -€131.9 million (5.2%), mainly due to the deconsolidation of the North American talc subsidiaries. As part of its strategy to strengthen its portfolio of specialty minerals, Imerys also acquired EDK (November 2019), a calcium carbonate supplier that generated €15 million in revenue in 2018 in the paints and coating market in Brazil. A positive currency effect of +€66.2 million (+2.6%) went some way to offsetting the scope effect. At constant scope and exchange rates, annual revenue dropped -3.1% in a generally depressed market.
Revenue in the Americas fell -3.8% at constant scope and exchange rates over the year, or -2.3% after stripping out the impact of the closure of the Willsboro plant9 (U.S.) in the first half of the year. Although the construction, paints and coating markets resisted well, sales nevertheless suffered from the slowdown in the paper and food and beverage filtration markets in the U.S.
Revenue in Europe, Middle-East and Africa slid back -2.8% at constant scope and exchange rates in 2019. The slowdown in traditional ceramic (sanitaryware and floor and wall tiles) and paper markets was not offset by the growth in sales in plastics and rubber.
Revenue in Asia-Pacific was stable at constant scope and exchange rates. The market context was contrasted across most applications, while trends were positive in the graphite market for lithium ion batteries.
Current operating income for the segment totaled €279.2 million in 2019, down -20.9%, with operating margin falling to 11.6% (from 13.8% in 2018). Excluding the removal of the North American talc subsidiaries from the scope of consolidation and the temporary closure of the Willsboro plant, current operating income shrunk by -13.0% and current operating margin came out at 12.1%.
High Temperature Materials & Solutions (46% of consolidated revenue)
Revenue generated by the High Temperature Materials and Solutions segment fell -4.6% in 2019 on a reported basis. This included a positive currency effect of +€35.8 million (+1.7%) and a negative scope effect of -€22.7 million (-1.1%), primarily due to the disposal of the cat litter business (October 1, 2018) and the non-strategic fused magnesia plant in the UK (March 1, 2019). At constant scope and exchange rates, revenue decreased by -5.3% across the year, after a tough fourth quarter as expected (down -12.0%).
Over the same period, revenue from High Temperature Solutions slipped back -5.8% at constant scope and exchange rates due to especially challenging market conditions throughout the second half of the year. While manufacturing in the automotive industry continues to weigh on the European foundry market, the downward trend in the iron and steel sector was exacerbated as a direct result of falling production capacities among steel manufacturers. Furthermore, several kiln renovation projects in the petrochemical, boiler and incinerator industries were postponed in the fourth quarter of the year. On January 17, 2020, Imerys finalized an agreement to acquire India’s leading producer of calcium silicate for thermal insulation panels in the cement, metalcasting, refinery, petrochemical and power plant industries. The business generated revenue of €5 million in 2019.
Revenue in Refractory, Abrasives & Construction decreased -4.9% at constant scope and exchange rates. Sales slowed throughout the year, in particular in the second half, in the refractory and abrasives markets due to lower production levels and the impact of running down stocks in the steel and automotive industries. The slowdown was partially compensated by refractories in the industrial (cement and aluminum) and building chemistry markets (specialty cements). On December 24, 2019, Imerys completed the acquisition of a 65% stake in Shandong Luxin Mount Tai Co., a major Chinese producer of fused minerals for abrasives (€12 million in revenue in 2018).
Current operating income for the segment totaled €150.7 million, for an operating margin of 7.6% in 2019 (compared with 10.7% in 2018), due to the considerable drop in volumes despite a resilient price mix, relaxed raw materials prices (alumina, zirconia, etc.) and lower fixed costs and overheads.
- April 29, 2020: Q1 2020 Results
- May 4, 2020: Shareholders’ General Meeting
- July 27, 2020: H1 2020 Results
- November 2, 2020: Q3 2020 Results
These dates are subject to change and may be updated on the Group’s website:
Annual results presentation
The press release is available on the Group’s website www.imerys.com. The 2019 annual results will be presented at a meeting held on Thursday, February 13, 2020 at 11am (CET). The meeting will be broadcast live on the Group’s website www.imerys.com.
The world’s leading supplier of mineral-based specialty solutions for industry with €4.4 billion in revenue and 16,300 employees in 2019. Imerys delivers high value-added, functional solutions to a great number of sectors, from processing industries to consumer goods. The Group draws on its understanding of applications, technological knowledge and expertise in material science to deliver solutions by beneficiating its mineral resources, synthetic minerals and formulations. Imerys’ solutions contribute essential properties to customers’ products and their performance, including heat resistance, hardness, conductivity, opacity, durability, purity, lightness, filtration, absorption and water repellency. Imerys is determined to develop responsibly, in particular by fostering the emergence of environmentally-friendly products and processes.
More comprehensive information about Imerys may be obtained from its website www.imerys.com in the Regulated Information section, particularly in its Registration Document filed with the French financial markets authority (Autorité des marchés financiers, AMF) on March 20, 2019 under number D.19-0175 (also available from the AMF website, www.amf-france.org). Imerys draws investors’ attention to chapter 4 “Risk Factors and Internal Control” of its Registration Document.
Disclaimer: This document contains projections and other forward-looking statements. Investors should be aware that such projections and forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties (many of which are difficult to predict and generally beyond the control of Imerys) that could cause actual results and developments to differ materially from those expressed or implied.
The present document is a translation of the French language version provided solely for the convenience of English-speaking users. In all matters of interpretation, views or opinions expressed in the original language version of the document in French take precedence over the translation. Only the French language version is binding.
Vincent Gouley: +33 (0)1 49 55 64 69
Claire Garnier: +33 (0)1 49 55 64 27
Hugues Schmitt (DGM Conseil): +33 (0)1 40 70 11 89