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Press Release

Imerys 2020 results: Strengthening recovery in the fourth quarter; Resilience in profitability and strong cash flow generation amid Covid-19 challenges

  • Full year revenue at €3.8 billion (-12.8% vs FY 2019)
  • Recovery in most end markets gaining pace towards the end of the year: Q4 organic growth of +1.7%
  • Current EBITDA margin in Q3 and Q4 (18.0%), above last year level
  • Significant savings on fixed costs and overheads: €131 million
  • Net current free operating cash flow of €373 million (+7.4% vs. 2019), allowing for a net financial debt reduction of €177 million
  • Net income impacted by non-recurring charges of €137 million, mostly from asset impairments
  • Proposal of a cash dividend of €1.15 per share

Alessandro Dazza, Chief Executive Officer, said:

“Imerys results in 2020 confirm its sound fundamentals and the resilience of its business model in the context of an unprecedented sanitary and economic crisis following the Covid-19 pandemic. We effectively delivered on our cost-savings action plan and completed the Connect & Shape transformation program, which allowed us to bring our operating margin in the second half of the year back to pre-Covid 19 crisis levels and generate a strong cash flow. Imerys made great progress in sustainable development, overachieving on its ambitious targets. Innovation supported the business through the launch of 70 new minerals solutions for our customers. I want to thank all my teams for the fantastic work done throughout this difficult year.
Though we see the economic recovery strengthening overall, we shall remain focused on optimizing our operating performance and market reach. Meanwhile, supported by robust cash generation and a solid financial position, Imerys will continue to invest in targeted capacity expansions and bolt-on acquisitions to sustain future growth and value creation.”

Audit procedures on consolidated financial statements have been finalized. The audit report will be issued after completion of required procedures for Universal Registration Document filing and Annual Financial Report publication.

Consolated results

Capacity expansions and bolt-on acquisitions to support future growth

The Group is pursuing its growth strategy through expansions of production capacities to meet increasing demand for its products and services:

  • In the Performance Minerals segment, an investment of €35 million in Switzerland to double production capacity for high-purity synthetic graphite used in Lithium-ion batteries. This investment is the first of a series of capacity expansion projects dedicated to the fast-growing electric vehicles market worldwide.
  • In the High Temperature Materials & Solutions segment, an investment of €37 million for the commissioning of a greenfield plant in India, to serve growing demand of the domestic refractory market for high performance solutions. India is the second largest steel producer in the world.

In 2020, Imerys completed several bolt-on acquisitions in fast-growing geographies and markets:

  • In October, Imerys announced the acquisition of Sunward Refractories (expected revenue of USD 15 million in 2021), a Taiwanese producer of high temperature refractory solutions which complements the existing product portfolio of the Group in the region and extends its market reach in Asia.
  • In December, Imerys completed the acquisition of a majority stake of 60%, with options to purchase the remainder, of the Haznedar group, a Turkish-based, high-grade refractory monolithics and bricks manufacturer, serving the iron & steel, cement and petrochemical industries. This business generated USD 64 million in revenue (of which 40% from exports) and USD 17 million in EBITDA in 2019. With this deal, Imerys, World #1 in alumino-silicate monolithic refractories present in 30 countries, complements its current products offer and extends its industrial footprint with a competitive production base in Turkey, strategically located between Europe, Middle-East and Africa. The Group strengthens its position within the attractive and growing Turkish market, where Haznedar has leadership positions, a strong brand name and superior products. This business is consolidated in the High Temperature Solutions business area, part of the High Temperature Materials & Solutions segment.
  • In the first part of the year, the Group also acquired Cornerstone Industrial Minerals Corp. (April 2020), a producer of high-quality perlite in North America (annual revenue of USD 12 million), and Hysil (July 2020), an Indian producer of calcium silicate boards used for thermal insulation projects for industries such as cement, metallurgical, oil refinery petrochemical and power plants (€5 million in annual revenue).

As part of its portfolio management, Imerys divested its Kaolin operations located in Pittong, Australia (December 2020, annual revenue of AUD 12 million).

Dividend

At the Shareholders’ General Meeting of May 10, 2021, the Board of Directors will propose a cash dividend of €1.15 per share, representing a total estimated payout of €97 million equal to 57% of net income from current operations, Group’s share. This proposal reflects the Board’s confidence in the Group’s fundamentals and development prospects.

COMMENTARY ON THE FOURTH QUARTER AND ANNUAL 2020 RESULTS

Revenue

Revenue 2019-2020

Revenue for the full year 2020 was €3,798.5 million, down 10.7% year-on-year at constant scope and exchange rates. Group sales volumes were up 0.7% in the fourth quarter of 2020, showing a continued improvement since the second quarter, which was negatively impacted by the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Recovery strengthened across all underlying markets in the fourth quarter.

In this context, Imerys maintained a positive 0.7% price-mix versus the prior year, with 1.0% (+€10.4 million) in the fourth quarter.

Revenue included a significant negative currency effect of €91.4 million (-2.1%), primarily as a result of the depreciation of the U.S. dollar against the euro in the second half of the year.

The scope effect was €0.7 million for the full year 2020, the positive contribution of recent bolt-on acquisitions being offset by the divestment of some non-core operations and the deconsolidation of the North American talc
subsidiaries in February 2019.

Current EBITDA

Current EBITDA 2019-2020

Current EBITDA reached €631.5 million for 2020 full year. In the fourth quarter, current EBITDA margin improved to 18.0%, above 2019 level (17.7%).

In 2020, the negative volume contribution (€244 million) was partly offset by a positive price mix (€33 million) and the extensive cost reduction measures implemented by the Group. Variable costs benefited from €71 million of savings related to the Connect & Shape (purchasing centralization) and the I-Cube industrial excellence programs. Fixed costs and overheads were positively impacted by specific actions delivering €131 million in savings: €86 million in relation to Covid-19 measures and €45 million to the Connect & Shape program. The Group transformation plan has delivered on its targets (€100m gross savings on a run-rate base) ahead of plan.

The currency effect was negative at €18.3 million.

Current operating income at €298.5 million shows a 32.0% decrease against 2019.

Net income from current operations

Net income from current operations, Group share, totaled €167.0 million, down 39.7% vs. 2019. Net financial result is negative at -€61.4 million in 2020, €17.7 million lower than in 2019, which benefited from the repayment in March 2019 of the private placement denominated in Japanese yen. The income tax expense of €44.3 million corresponds to an effective tax rate of 27.8%, compared with 28.8% in 2019. Net income from current operations, Group share, per share was down 42.0% to €2.03.

Net income

Other income and expenses, after tax, represent an overall charge of €136.8 million in 2020, mostly coming from asset impairments and targeted business reorganizations. Consequently, net income, Group share, totaled €30.1 million in 2020.

Net current free operating cash flow

Net current free operating cash flow

Imerys generated solid net current free operating cash flow of €373.5 million in 2020, up 7.4%. This figure includes €262.1 million in capital expenditure (representing 6.9% of revenue), down €29.6 million year-on-year, and a significant improvement in operating working capital (positive contribution of €74.9 million) compared to last year, in particular thanks to better inventory management.

In addition, the limited cash out for the dividend distribution (€17.6 million in 2020 versus €172.7 million in 2019) and a positive change in non-operating working capital requirement contributed to the reduction of the net financial debt by €177.0 million in 2020.

Change in net financial debt

Financial structure 

Financial structure

At December 31, 2020, net financial debt totaled €1,508.0 million, which represents 2.4x current EBITDA. 

Imerys "investment grade" ratings were confirmed by Standard and Poor's (June 2, 2020, BBB-, stable outlook) and Moody's (April 2, 2020, Baa3, negative outlook).

At December 31, 2020, Imerys’ bond financing amounted to €1,700 million with an average maturity of 4.8 years. The Group also has €1,110 million available in bilateral credit lines.

COMMENTARY BY SEGMENT

Performance Minerals (57% of consolidated revenue)

Performance Minerals 2019-2020

Revenue generated by the Performance Minerals segment fell 7.7% like-for-like in 2020, though showing a sequential positive trend in the second part of the year (+4.7% in the fourth quarter). On a reported basis, revenue was down 9.8% after a negative currency effect of €67.5 million (-2.8%). This decline was partly offset by a net positive scope effect of €16.7 million (+0.7%), resulting from the deconsolidation of the North American talc subsidiaries and additional revenues from the acquisition of EDK (November 2019), a calcium carbonate producer in Brazil and Cornerstone Industrial Minerals Corp. (April 2020), a producer of high-quality perlite in North America. 

Revenue in the Americas was down 7.1% at constant scope and exchange rates in 2020. During the fourth quarter, revenue was down 6.3% like-for-like. Paints, rubber, polymers and ceramic markets continued to recover in the fourth quarter, driven by construction and automotive. Good performance of filtration and life science markets were supported by strong activity in pharma and agriculture. Certain paper mills closures and a decline in demand negatively impacted paper in the fourth quarter.

Revenue in Europe, Middle-East and Africa decreased by 10.1% at constant scope and exchange rates in 2020. During the fourth quarter (-0.2%), Imerys benefitted from a strong rebound in construction (paints and coatings), automotive (plastics, absorbents) and board & packaging, while demand for paper was low. Consumer goods market trends were contrasted, with decreasing food & beverage filtration markets but growing pharmaceutical and agriculture applications.

Revenue in Asia-Pacific was down 6.5% at constant scope and exchange rates in 2020. The strong rebound in the fourth quarter (+7.9%) was due to healthy growth of Graphite & Carbon for mobile energy and strengthening recovery in specialty minerals for plastics, paints & coatings and ceramics.

Current EBITDA for the segment totaled €429.8 million in 2020, with margin at 19.7%.

High Temperature Materials & Solutions (43% of consolidated revenue)

High Temperature Materials & Solutions 2019-2020

Revenue generated by the High Temperature Materials and Solutions segment fell 14.3% in 2020, but showed clear improvement in the fourth quarter at constant scope and exchange rates (-0.9%). On a reported basis, revenue was down 16.6% in 2020 due to a negative currency effect of €30.0 million (-1.5%) and scope effect of €14.8 million (-0.7%). The scope effect combines the disposal of non-strategic assets (fused magnesia, March 2019), with the acquisition of new businesses: Shandong Luxin Mount Tai Co., a Chinese producer of minerals for abrasives (December 2019), Hysil in India (July 2020), Sunward Refractories in Taiwan (November 2020) and Haznedar in Turkey (December 2020), three producers of refractory solutions. 

Revenue in High Temperature Solutions decreased by 15.1% at constant scope and exchange rates in 2020, though the business started to benefit from underlying markets recovery (iron & steel, foundry for automotive) in the fourth quarter (-0.2% vs. 2019).

Revenue in the Refractory, Abrasives & Construction business area was down 13.6% at constant scope and exchange rates in 2020. During the fourth quarter (+0.5%), the refractory and abrasives markets recovered progressively, particularly in Europe, driven by iron & steel and automotive; the building and infrastructure segment (specialty binders) remained at a high level.

Current EBITDA for the segment totaled €188.4 million, or 11.4% of revenue in 2020.

Update on the potential resolution of historic US talc-related liabilities

The relevant U.S Court in the District of Delaware approved on January 27, 2021 the Disclosure Statement and authorized the submission of the North American Talc Entities proposed Plan of Reorganization to the vote of their creditors and claimants in the U.S. talc-related litigation (vote due by the end of March).

Subject to the vote of the creditors at the required majority, the final approval process of the Plan and confirmation hearing by the relevant competent U.S Court is currently scheduled to start on June 21, 2021, with potential emergence from the Chapter 11 to follow during summer 2021.

In parallel, the sale of the North American Talc Entities’ assets and business to Magris (a Canadian Private Equity fund), for a purchase price of US $223 million, was completed  on February 17.

The provision set aside in the consolidated accounts of Imerys is considered as adequate to cover the expected financial impact of the Plan and the resolution of Group’s historic liabilities relating to the North American talc operations.

Update on key targets for 2022

Imerys confirms that it is broadly on track to achieve its key objectives for 2022 set at the 2019 Capital Market Day. Current EBITDA margin is expected to continue to improve in 2021 and 2022.

Key targets for 2022

2020 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 2020 results at 11.00 am (CET) on February 18, 2021, which can be accessed on the Group’s website www.imerys.com.

Financial Calendar
  • April 29, 2021: 1st quarter 2021 results
  • May 10, 2021: General Meeting of Shareholders
  • July 27, 2021: 1st half 2021 results
  • November 2, 2021: 3rd quarter 2021 results

These dates are subject to change and may be updated on the Group’s website https://www.Imerys.com/finance.

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The world’s leading supplier of mineral-based specialty solutions for industry with €3.8 billion in revenue and 16,400 employees in 2020. 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 24, 2020 under number D.20-0175 (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.

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Analyst/Investor Relations:
Vincent Gouley: +33 (0)1 49 55 64 69
finance@imerys.com

Press contacts:
Claire Lauvernier: +33 (0)1 49 55 66 65
Hugues Schmitt (DGM Conseil): +33 (0)1 40 70 11 89

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