Wacker’s polysilicon business grows in 2017


German chemical group Wacker Chemie AG exceeded its forecasts over the past fiscal year, with revenues rising 6% to $6.06 billion in 2017.

Decisive for this increase was higher sales volumes for polysilicon and chemical products. EBITDA also increased by 6.1% to $1.32 billion, while EBITDA margin remained unchanged at 21%.

EBIT also improved 25% to $522 million compared to 2016, which was mainly due to lower depreciation and amortization. Wacker Chemie intends to propose a dividend of $3.08 and an additional bonus of $2.50 per share to its shareholders.

Revenues for Wacker’s Polysilicon division rose last year by 3% to $1.38 billion, according to figures published today. The company was able to achieve lower average selling prices and to compensate them by higher polysilicon sales volumes.

An even stronger increase in sales of the division was prevented, however, by the hydrogen explosion at its U.S. plant in Charleston in early September. This was due to a technical defect, as Wacker Chemie recently confirmed.

Since then, production at the plant has been halted, with around 6,000 tonnes of polysilicon unavailable for sale in 2017. The EBITDA in this area increased by 2% compared to 2016, to $358 million, which was achieved mainly by the higher sales and lower production costs.

Forecasts for 2018

Overall, Wacker Chemie expects “strong headwinds” for the current business year. Nevertheless, the goal is to increase sales for the full year 2018 by a low single-digit percentage. Meanwhile, EBITDA is expected to grow at a mid-single-digit rate, as it said.

In the first two months of the year, sales in the polysilicon business were “noticeably lower” than in the previous year. The reason for this is also the current production shutdown at its U.S. plant. Group-wide, however, Wacker Chemie is likely to achieve sales at the previous year’s level in the first quarter.

Wacker Chemie CEO, Rudolf Staudigl confirmed once again that polysilicon production in the U.S. should restart in the spring. “In all likelihood, however, we will be able to start up the plants there in a few weeks.”

Nevertheless, the current production loss means sales volumes cannot be increased compared to the previous year, Staudigl added. Due to the expected lower average prices, Wacker Polysilicon’s 2018 sales are expected to be “a high single-digit percentage below the previous year”.