Lower metal prices & demand: Umicore`s 2015 recycling earnings 5 percent down

Quelle: Umicore AG

Brussels – In 2015, Umicore`s revenues were well up (+11 percent) compared to 2014 with strong growth in Catalysis and Energy & Surface Technologies more than offsetting the impact of lower metal prices on the recycling activities. The revenue growth, which was in part driven by the ramp-up of recent growth investments, was the main factor behind the REBIT growth of 21 percent. Non recurring elements amounted to a charge of € 63 million to net earnings relating primarily to restructuring measures and impairments of permanently tied-up metal inventories. Growth investments are on or ahead of schedule and capital expenditures amounted to € 240 million. In Recycling major investments were successfully carried out as part of the program to increase capacity of the Hoboken plant by 40 percent.

Revenues and earnings for Recycling were down 2 percent and 5 percent respectively, reflecting the impact of lower metal prices and lower demand in certain end-markets of the Platinum Engineered Materials and Technical Materials business units.

  • Revenues for Precious Metals Refining were stable year on year, despite declining metal prices. An improved supply mix both for industrial by-products and end-of-life materials helped offset the impact of the lower metal prices on revenues.
  • Revenues for Jewellery & Industrial Metals were down due to a lower contribution from the recycling activity. While the refining volumes benefitted from a better availability of silver-containing residues, this was more than offset by the impact of lower metal prices.
  • Revenues for Platinum Engineered Materials were down compared to the previous year. Order levels for platinum equipment used in glass manufacturing remained subdued as producers tend to use their platinum equipment longer, particularly in the display segment.
  • Precious Metals Management recorded higher demand for deliveries of physical metal. Demand for PGMs increased on the back of higher order levels from the automotive industry. Sales volumes for gold bars were somewhat higher as investor demand picked up in the second half of the year.
  • Revenues for Technical Materials were down year on year reflecting lower sales volumes across the different product groups. In Europe the pressure from substitution and miniaturization persisted and demand in Brazil was significantly impacted by customer inventory adjustments in the fourth quarter.

Umicore expects significant volume increases in its strategic growth platforms of clean mobility and recycling in 2016. Sales of automotive catalysts are set to benefit from strengthening demand in both light and heavy duty applications while the accelerating trend towards vehicle electrification should drive sales of rechargeable battery materials higher. Processed volumes at the Hoboken recycling operations are also set to increase following the completion of the main investment wave in 2015. Metal prices are currently at lower levels than the average of last year. Given the high level of market volatility it is too early to estimate what impact metal prices might have on the anticipated benefits from the strong volume growth.

The full year results can be downloaded under hugin.info.

Source: Umicore