- Wacker Chemie’s polysilicon net sales for 2020 grew 2%, while group net sales declined by 5%
- Polysilicon business did well due to stability in average prices for solar-grade polysilicon, and lowering of production costs
- It also expanded its polysilicon market share with semiconductor-sector customers
- Citing strong demand for its polysilicon and construction products, management expects polysilicon sales in 2021 to rise by a mid-single-digit percentage
After 2 ‘difficult’ years, German polysilicon and chemicals producer Wacker Chemie AG heaved a sigh of relief for its polysilicon business as net sales for this segment in 2020 grew 2% on annual basis.
Wacker President and CEO Dr. Rudolf Staudigl cited 3 main reasons for this growth in the polysilicon business:
- average prices for solar-grade polysilicon stopped falling
- company expanding its market share with semiconductor-sector customers, and
- significant reduction in production costs
In 2020, the polysilicon segment sales added up to €792 million, growing 2% YoY, while EBITDA turned positive to €5 million, compared to a negative EBITDA of €-56 million in 2019.
While the polysilicon segment fared well in 2020, Wacker’s overall group sales, the management said, suffered the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic mainly in H1/2020, pulling down group net sales by 5% to €4.69 billion, while group EBITDA dropped 15% to €666 million. Strong demand from construction and polysilicon segments enabled it to gain ground in H2/2020, even if it did not completely make up for the loss of annual group sales.
Wacker turned profitable in 2020, with its group net income reaching €202 million, compared to €630 million net loss in the previous year (see Wacker Confirms €630 Million Net Loss For 2019).
Looking forward, the management is fairly positive of the market growing as it cited high demand for all its business divisions YTD with group sales and EBITDA in January 2021 and February 2021 being higher YoY. The company guides for Q1/2020 group sales of close to €1.3 billion, higher than the previous year, and ‘substantial’ increase in EBITDA as well.
“Tailwinds here come mainly from strong demand for our polysilicon and our construction products, and from generally lower production costs,” added Staudigl. “In our polysilicon business, we expect sales to rise by a mid-single-digit percentage in 2021, driven by an improved product mix and slightly higher volumes.”
Management is guiding for a ‘clearly positive’ EBITDA in 2021 for the polysilicon segment anticipating no reduction in average polysilicon prices. Strategic focus of the company will be on improving efficiency of its existing plants, further reducing energy and raw material use and cutting production costs, along with retaining its quality.
The polysilicon supply shortage in the market currently—and expected to continue this year till new production capacity comes online—is helping the likes of Wacker, among other major names in the polysilicon industry. Chinese polysilicon producer Daqo New Energy posted $129.2 million net income in 2020 while guiding for up to 81,000 MT production in 2021 (see Solid Q4/2020 Reported By China’s Daqo New Energy).
In December 2020, Bernreuter Research claimed polysilicon constraints in 2021, but oversupply in 2022 which it sees as intensifying in 2023, however 75% global market share still belongs to Chinese giants (see Future Bright For Polysilicon Industry, Claims Research).
Back to Wacker, the German chemical company said it plans to use renewable energy to produce green hydrogen at its Burghausen site for which it has submitted a project proposal to the European Union for funding. The idea is for the company to have its production permanently become carbon neutral.