Imerys: Strong financial performance in 2021
Revenue at €4,383 million (+15,4%), with robust organic growth of 15.6% vs. last year (+10.7% in Q4)
Positive price mix impact at +3.2% for the year (+5.9% in Q4) in high cost inflation environment
Current EBITDA up 20.5% to €761 million, above guidance range1, and current EBITDA margin at 17.4% (16.6% in 2020)
Solid net current free operating cash flow of €255 million
Net income from current operations up 72% to €288 million
Proposed dividend of €1.55 per share, up 35% versus prior year
Significant progress on ambitious ESG roadmap
Alessandro Dazza, Chief Executive Officer, said:
“Imerys delivered another quarter of solid earnings in Q4, marked by continuing good momentum on most of our end markets and strong commercial performance. I want to thank the teams for their commitment and support to our customers despite severe constraints on logistics and supply in a context of record high inflation of all input costs. In this context, the Group exceeded its guidance for 2021. For this year, we expect demand for the Group’s specialty minerals solutions to remain sustained. In a volatile environment, Imerys will continue to give priority to price, cost and cash management, while actively pursuing growth opportunities and focusing on rapidly rising demand for sustainable solutions.”
The audit procedures on the consolidated accounts are finalized. The audit report will be issued after the finalization of the procedures for the verification of the management report, and the presentation of the accounts to be included in the Universal Registration Document, in the format provided for in the ESEF Regulation.
1Guidance announced on November 2, 2021: FY 2021 current EBITDA between €735 million and €755 million
2The definition of alternative performance measures can be found in the glossary at the end of the press release.
³Weighted average number of outstanding shares: 84,689,581 in 2021 compared with 82,168,061 in 2020.
In 2021, the Group continued to expand its footprint and production capacity to meet demand for its products in regions and markets with the highest growth potential.
In the Performance Minerals segment, Imerys has invested €35 million in its plant in Bodio, Switzerland, and is currently completing a €60 million investment in Willebroek, Belgium, to expand production capacity for high-purity, synthetic graphite and carbon black used in Lithium-ion batteries, mostly used in electric cars. These investments are the first of a series of capacity expansion projects addressing the strong demand growth expected in the electric vehicles market worldwide.
In the Refractory, Abrasives and Construction business area, Imerys has invested €37 million for the construction and commissioning of a greenfield plant in Vizag, India, to serve the rising needs of the domestic refractory industry for high performance solutions. India is the second largest steel producer in the world.
In addition to these developments, Imerys has completed the integration of the Haznedar Group, acquired in December 2020. Haznedar has generated revenue of €75 million, well above expectations, and has enlarged Imerys product offering with high-grade refractory monolithics and bricks, while further strengthening the Group position in the growing Turkish market.
Innovation push in new products and technologies
The Group launched 80 new products in 2021 primarily in green mobility, sustainable construction and natural solutions for consumer goods and life sciences. Each innovation project is assessed through a specific Portfolio Sustainability Assessment (PSA) framework developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and verified by an external independent body.
Imerys targets 50% of new products to be launched in 2022 to be ranked as “SustainAgilityTM solutions” 4 and has promoted a specific label for its products with the highest sustainability rating. Imerys is also actively working on the recyclability of minerals.
Sustainability: recent ESG developments
The Group made progress across the six pillars that constitute its SustainAgility ESG program: safety & health, human capital, environmental stewardship, climate change, business conduct and product portfolio management.
In the area of corporate governance, the Board of Directors has appointed Mrs Véronique Saubot, one of its independent members, as ESG Referent Director dedicated to sustainability-related issues. The Group’s ESG roadmap and performance is now reviewed by the relevant Committees where applicable and in any event twice a year by the Board.
A climate change risk and opportunity scenario analysis has been completed assessing physical risks as well as transition risks and opportunities in line with the Financial Stability Board Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations. Potential, substantive financial or strategic impacts are disclosed via the CDP disclosure and will be presented in Imerys’ Universal Registration Document.
As part of its ESG strategy, the Group has introduced an internal price for carbon emissions in the assessment of its capital expenditure projects and has committed to a reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions of 36% by 2030 relative to revenue (tCO2/M€) from a 2018 base year, as validated by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi). The Group has also successfully issued its first Sustainability-Linked Bond of €300 million in May, with an annual coupon of 1% maturing in 2031 and indexed on the above-mentioned targets.
Active portfolio management
Disposal of non-core natural graphite assets
On December 2, 2021, Imerys has signed an agreement to sell its mothballed natural graphite mine and plant in Namibia, as well as its natural graphite mine in Lac des Iles (Canada), which is primarily supplying non-processed products for refractory and engineering applications, for an asset value of ca. €40 million. These assets generated ca. €15 million of revenue in 2021 with 50 employees and were accounted for in the Performance Minerals Asia Pacific business area. The deal is expected to be completed at the end of the first quarter of 2022.
Disposal of kaolin assets in North America
Imerys is expecting to close in the coming weeks the sale of certain US assets and mining resources supplying hydrous kaolin to the paper and board markets to Thiele Kaolin Company, one of the world's leading producers of processed kaolin clay. These assets, which are part of Imerys’ Performance Minerals Americas business area, posted revenue of approximately $76 million in 2020 with 109 employees.
At the Shareholders’ General Meeting of May 10, 2022, the Board of Directors will propose a cash dividend of €1.55 per share, up 34.7% vs last year, representing a total estimated payout of €132 million, equal to 46% of net income from current operations, Group’s share. This proposal reflects the Board’s confidence in the Group’s fundamentals and its development prospects.
Imerys expects the demand for its specialty minerals solutions to remain sustained across most market segments in 2022. Furthermore, Imerys is set to benefit from its positioning in the automotive sector once the semiconductor shortages and supply chain constraints have disappeared.
Continued pricing discipline is expected to support the Group’s profitability in 2022, while tight cost control will remain a key area of focus in a context of persistent high inflation. Active portfolio management and an acceleration of growth capex projects will boost the Group’s long-term expansion. The ongoing ecological transition will contribute to Imerys future development, as natural minerals solutions gradually replace less environmentally-friendly products.
Commentary on the fourth quarter and 2021 annual results
Revenue was €4,383 million, up 15.6% year-on-year at constant scope and exchange rates. Group sales volumes were up 12.4% in 2021, confirming the demand recovery across all underlying markets despite logistics and supply constraints..
In a context of high inflation, Imerys’ price mix accelerated in Q4 (+5.9%), averaging 3.2% for the year.
Revenue included a negative currency effect of €54 million (-1.4%), primarily as a result of the depreciation of the U.S. dollar against the euro in the first part of the year.
The scope effect amounted to €57 million for the year, related mostly to the positive contribution of acquisitions (Haznedar group, Cornerstone, Sunward Refractories and Hysil) and the divestiture of the kaolin operations in Australia.
Current EBITDA was above the upper range of the guidance and reached €761 million for 2021, a 20.5% increase vs. 2020. The margin improved by 80 basis points versus 2020 to 17.4%. In the fourth quarter of 2021, current EBITDA did not yet fully benefit from the most recent price increases, which will become effective in 2022.
2021 Current EBITDA benefitted from positive volume contribution (€224 million) and strong price mix (€97 million, of which €58 million in the fourth quarter alone), which compensated for the €97 million increase in variable costs, a consequence of extremely high inflation on freight, raw materials, energy and packaging costs.
Fixed costs and overheads were up €115 million vs last year, following increased activity at all production sites. The currency effect was negative at €9 million.
Current operating income reached €452 million for 2021, a 51.5% increase compared to last year.
Net income from current operations
Net income from current operations, Group share, totaled €288 million, up 72.4% vs. 2020. Net financial result was negative at €40 million. The income tax expense of €111 million corresponds to an effective tax rate of 27.0%, compared with 27.8% in 2020. Net income from current operations, Group share, per share, was up 67.3% to €3.40.
Net income, Group share, totaled €240 million in 2021, after -€48 million of other income and expenses, after tax.
Net current free operating cash flow
Imerys generated a net current free operating cash flow of €255 million in 2021 (€373 million in 2020). This figure includes €336 million of capital expenditure (representing 7.7% of revenue), up €74 million year-on-year, reflecting increased spending on strategic projects aimed at increasing production capacity in the most promising markets. Despite inflation and the activity rebound, operating working capital requirements grew more slowly than revenue.
After the cash outflow corresponding to the dividend payment (€107 million in 2021 versus €17 million in 2020), the net financial debt decreased by €57 million (after €177 million in 2020).
At December 31, 2021, the net financial debt totaled €1,451 million, which represents 1.9x current EBITDA.
Imerys "investment grade" ratings were confirmed by Standard and Poor's (December 1, 2021, BBB-, stable outlook) and Moody's (August 18, 2021, Baa3, stable outlook).
At December 31, 2021, Imerys’ bond financing amounted to €1.7 billion with an average maturity of 5.4 years. The Group also has €1.16 billion available in bilateral credit lines.
Performance Minerals (54% of consolidated revenue)
* reported growth
Revenue generated by the Performance Minerals segment was up 13.2% like-for-like in 2021, of which +8.7% of volume growth and +4.5% of price mix effect. On a reported basis, revenue was up 11.4% after a negative currency effect of €32 million (-1.5%).
Revenue in the Americas was up 10.7% at constant scope and exchange rates in 2021, of which +11.3% in the fourth quarter, despite persisting logistic issues which created a significant order backlog. The rebound in activity was supported by sales of products for paints, rubber, polymers and ceramics in the construction industry and a good performance of the filtration and agriculture markets in the consumer goods sector.
Revenue in Europe, Middle East and Africa increased by 12.4% at constant scope and exchange rates in 2021. During the fourth quarter (+0.2%), growth in the dynamic construction sector, especially in renovation (paints & coatings, tiles and sanitaryware) and a strong consumer goods market (filtration and life science applications) were offset by weak sales to graphic paper and to the automotive sectors, which continued to suffer from the global semiconductors shortage.
Revenue in Asia-Pacific was up 22.0% at constant scope and exchange rates in 2021 (+7.3% in the fourth quarter) thanks to the strong demand for carbon black and synthetic graphite for mobile energy overall and the recovery of paper & board, ceramics and filtration in APAC.
Current EBITDA for the segment totaled €497 million in 2021, or 20.5% of revenue.
High Temperature Materials & Solutions (46% of consolidated revenue)
* reported growth
Revenue generated by the High Temperature Materials and Solutions segment was up 18.4% in 2021 at constant scope and exchange rates, of which +17.1% of volume growth and +1.3% of price mix effect. Organic growth remained strong in the fourth quarter at +21.0%. On a reported basis, revenue increased by 21.0% with a positive scope effect of €60 million (+3.6%) and an unfavorable currency effect of €13.5 million (-0.8%).
Revenue in High Temperature Solutions, which is serving the iron & steel, thermal and foundry markets, increased by 17.2% year-on-year at constant scope and exchange rates in 2021, posting growth of 17.5% in the fourth quarter. The business continued to benefit from various commercial initiatives and the strong underlying market recovery. The rebound was supported by the dynamism of the iron & steel and foundry segments, despite persisting issues in the automotive market.
Revenue in the Refractory, Abrasives & Construction business area was up 19.9% at constant scope and exchange rates in 2021 (+20.9% in the fourth quarter), driven by a strong recovery in refractories and abrasives, as well as further growth in building and infrastructure (specialty binders). In India, the new greenfield plant in Vizag continued to ramp up production to serve the dynamic domestic refractory and construction markets.
Current EBITDA for the segment totaled €279 million, or 14.0% of revenue in 2021.
Update on Chapter 11 process of North American talc entities
The North American talc entities, representatives of current and future potential claimants, and other stakeholders in the chapter 11 process are engaged in a court-approved mediation to reach a revised plan of reorganization that will achieve the required 75% majority approval vote by claimants. The Group continues to consider that the balance of the provision in the financial statements as of the end of 2021 is appropriate to cover the expected financial impact of the Chapter 11 process on Imerys.
2021 annual results webcast
The press release is available on the Group’s website www.imerys.com. The Group will hold a live webcast to discuss the 2021 annual results at 11.00 AM (CET) on February 17, 2022, which can be accessed on the Group’s website www.imerys.com.
These dates are subject to change and may be updated on the Group’s website https://www.Imerys.com/finance.
The world’s leading supplier of mineral-based specialty solutions for industry with €4.4 billion in revenue and 17,000 employees in 2021. 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 22, 2021 under number D.21-0167 (also available from the AMF website, www.amf-france.org). Imerys draws investors’ attention to chapter 2 “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.
Vincent Gouley: +33 (0)1 49 55 64 69
Claire Lauvernier: +33 (0)1 49 55 66 65
Hugues Schmitt (DGM Conseil): +33 (0)1 40 70 11 89