AMSTERDAM — Akzo Nobel N.V. has published results for the third quarter 2020, reporting 3% growth in volumes and an 18% increase in adjusted operating income.

The company reported that return on sales (ROS), excluding unallocated costs, increased to 17.7% (2019: 13.8%) due to strong margin management and cost savings. AkzoNobel reported growth in volumes of 3%, with strong demand trends for most segments and regions. Total cost savings were €49 million, of which €27 million structural savings related to transformation initiatives. Net cash from operating activities improved by 46% to €457 million (2019: €312 million).

Compared to the third quarter of 2019, revenue in the third quarter of 2020 was 5% lower, while up 1% in constant currencies. Volumes were up 3%, showing strong demand for Decorative Paints, partly offset by lower volumes of Performance Coatings and unfavorable price/mix of 1%. Adjusted operating income was up 18% at €353 million (2019: €300 million); and ROS increased to 15.5% compared to 12.5% in 2019. Operating income of €326 million includes €27 million negative impact from identified items, related to transformation costs (2019: €247 million operating income, including €53 million negative identified items). OPI margin was up at 14.3% (2019: 10.3%). Adjusted EPS from continuing operations was up 34% at €1.30 (2019: €0.97).

AkzoNobel CEO, Thierry Vanlancker, commented, “We delivered an excellent performance for the third quarter, with revenue growth in constant currencies, and business return on sales up at 17.7% driven by strong discipline on margins and cost savings. These results were made possible by the continued commitment of all AkzoNobel colleagues around the world, adapting to the challenges presented by COVID-19.

“Although the macro-economic environment remains uncertain, we’re continuing to build on our solid position as a frontrunner in our industry, committed to serving our customers with more innovative and sustainable solutions. That's why we're proud to have received a Platinum rating from EcoVadis for corporate social responsibility and sustainable procurement.”

AkzoNobel has suspended its 2020 financial ambition in response to the significant market disruption resulting from the pandemic. Headwinds related to COVID-19 continued to ease, although demand trends differ per region and segment in an uncertain macro-economic environment. Raw material costs are expected to have a favorable impact for the fourth quarter of 2020. Continued margin management and cost-saving programs are in place to address the current challenges. The company targets a leverage ratio of 1-2 times net debt/EBITDA and commits to retain a strong investment grade credit rating.