MUNICH - Wacker Chemie AG ended fiscal 2014 with increases in both sales and earnings. The Munich-based chemical company announced that group sales totaled €4.83 billion, compared to €4.48 billion in 2013, a year-on-year rise of about 8%. This increase was mainly due to higher volumes across all divisions and improved polysilicon prices. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in 2014 amounted to €1,042.3 million, compared to €678.8 million in 2013, almost 54% more than a year earlier. The EBITDA margin rose significantly, from 15.2% to 21.6%.

There are several reasons for this jump in earnings. Last year, WACKER achieved higher prices overall - primarily for polysilicon, but also in several chemical-business segments. Productivity programs, measures to curb specific energy consumption and higher production volumes have reduced group costs by around €200 million. At Siltronic, the first-time consolidation of Siltronic Silicon Wafer Pte. Ltd. had a positive effect. WACKER POLYSILICON terminated or restructured contractual relationships with a number of solar-industry customers. In this connection, the division retained advance payments and received damages. That resulted in income of €206.3 million (2013: €77.6 million). Adjusted for this effect, group EBITDA in 2014 was €836.0 million (adjusted 2013: €601.1 million), rising 39% and yielding an EBITDA margin of 17.3%.

WACKER’s earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) reached €443.3 million in 2014 (2013: €114.3 million), thus almost quadrupling year on year. Looking at the bottom line, WACKER ended 2014 with group net income of €195.4 million (2013: €6.3 million). That is about €189 million more than in the previous year.

In the first two months of the current year, WACKER has experienced solid demand. Across all divisions, the sales of these two months beat the comparable prior-year figures. Overall, the chemical company forecasts sales of some €1.3 billion for the first quarter of 2015, compared to €1.16 billion in the first quarter of 2014.

For full-year 2015, WACKER is expecting higher consolidated sales and higher EBITDA (adjusted for special income) compared with 2014. The company is anticipating a high-single-digit percentage increase in sales, with all divisions expected to achieve higher volumes and sales than in 2014. Relative to a year earlier, EBITDA should rise modestly, adjusted on a comparable basis to exclude special solar-sector income from damages received and from restructured contractual and delivery relationships with customers. Group net income will come in below the 2014 figure, due to lower special income and a tax rate of slightly more than 50%.

“I am confident that 2015 will be a good year for WACKER,” said Group CEO Rudolf Staudigl in Munich on March 17. “We want to continue 2014’s upward trend and achieve sales of more than five billion euros for the first time in the company’s history. This year will see us starting to produce polysilicon at our new plant in Tennessee. The conclusion of our largest-ever single investment project will mark a major milestone of having integrated production plants in all of our key regions around the world. That will be highly important for our strategy of ongoing expansion.”