Volume growth increased sales by about €112 million during the quarter under review, while lower prices, especially in solar silicon and semiconductor wafers, reduced sales by some €109 million. Exchange-rate effects resulting from the strong euro also slowed the sales trend. Relative to the preceding quarter (€1,150.3 million), however, sales were up more than 1 percent.
WACKER’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounted to €167.9 million in the third quarter of 2013 (Q3 2012: €206.1 million), almost 19 percent less than a year ago and almost 11 percent less than in the preceding quarter (€188.2 million). The EBITDA margin was 14.4 percent, compared to 17.2 percent in Q3 2012 and 16.4 percent in Q2 2013.
The Group’s earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) from July through September 2013 totaled €35.1 million (Q3 2012: €72.5 million). The corresponding EBIT margin was 3.0 percent (Q3 2012: 6.0 percent). Net income for the quarter under review was €5.4 million (Q3 2012: €28.8 million) and earnings per share amounted to €0.09 (Q3 2012: €0.54).
The main factor holding back WACKER’s July-through-September sales performance in 2013 was the unaltered low price level for solar silicon. Prices were down about one-third from their prior-year levels. The sale of solar silicon from inventories diminished earnings, too. Silicon-wafer prices in the third quarter of 2013 were about 15 percent lower than a year ago.
At €109.6 million, the combined EBITDA of the three chemical divisions was about 3 percent down on the prior-year period (€113.4 million) and about 6 percent below Q2 2013 (€116.6 million). Lower prices for some product lines, especially in standard products, were the reason for the decrease. Unfavorable exchange-rate effects played a part as well. Included in third-quarter EBITDA are €13.2 million (Q3 2012: €2.1 million) in advance payments retained and damages received stemming from terminated contracts with polysilicon customers.
WACKER’s full-year 2013 forecast remains unchanged: the Group expects to post sales in the region of €4.5 billion, after €4.63 billion last year. EBITDA for fiscal 2013 is projected to fall short of the previous year’s figure (€795 million), while net income will be in slightly positive territory from today’s perspective.
“Demand for polysilicon continued to surge in the third quarter, lifted not only by the compromise reached in the solar dispute between the European Union and China, but also by mounting global interest in solar power,” said CEO Rudolf Staudigl on Thursday in Munich.
“In turn, demand from our customers climbed strongly in the third quarter. The prices for solar silicon remain a challenge. They were about one-third lower than a year ago. In the chemical divisions, the continued weakness of the economy – especially in Europe – is slowing our business and driving down prices in many of our product lines. Now that construction of our capital-intensive large-scale plants is nearing completion, we have markedly scaled back our investment activity – this has had a very positive impact on our cash flow and our debt level.”
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