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thyssenkrupp shares financial results for first nine months of 2020

Published by , Deputy Editor
World Cement,

thyssenkrupp’s performance in the first nine months of the current fiscal year was significantly impacted by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result of temporary plant closures, production in many areas came almost to a halt at the start of the 3rd quarter. The materials and components businesses dependent on the auto industry were particularly hard hit. Added to this were structural challenges in the steel business in an already difficult general market environment.

Against this background order intake1 in the first nine months of the current fiscal year decreased year-on-year by 19% to €19.8 billion. Sales were down by 15% to €21.6 billion. Despite immediate countermeasures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, adjusted EBIT after 9 months at €(1 122) million was significantly lower than a year earlier (€42 million). Particularly impacted by the pandemic, the 3rd quarter alone accounts for adjusted EBIT of €(679) million. In its last forecast thyssenkrupp expected a loss for the period April to June in the high three-digit million euro range and could not rule out a figure of up to a good €1 billion.

“We have worked hard to keep our costs under control and secure liquidity. As a result we came through the crisis slightly better than initially feared in the third quarter overall,” said Martina Merz, Chief Executive Officer of thyssenkrupp AG. “While we are now seeing signs of stabilisation, the forthcoming restructurings and cleaning up of the balance sheet will continue to weigh on earnings in the current quarter. With the proceeds from the elevator transaction we can now at last systematically address these overdue measures.”

Greatest possible flexibility in allocation of funds

In view of the uncertain economic situation caused by the coronavirus, the company will continue to retain the greatest possible flexibility in the concrete allocation of funds from the elevator transaction. Part of the proceeds will be used selectively to develop and restructure businesses where attractive target returns can be achieved in the short term. In addition, thyssenkrupp will repay financial liabilities in line with their maturity profile. Also, the significant fluctuations in net working capital during the course of the year are to be normalised, in particular through reduced use of year-end measures and factoring.

Klaus Keysberg, Chief Financial Officer of thyssenkrupp AG: “Normalising net working capital will improve comparability between quarters. This will provide greater transparency and make our forecasts more dependable. This will impact our cash flow in the current fiscal year in an amount of altogether around 2.5 billion euros. A year-on-year comparison will thus not be meaningful.”

Performance of the businesses in the first nine months 2019/2020

Automotive Technology was hit particularly hard by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The collapse in demand in the world’s biggest auto market China in February was followed from March by further plant shutdowns by big customers as a result of the lockdown particularly in Europe, the US, and Mexico. In China there were signs of a slight recovery from the end of April after the easing of restrictions. Order intake and sales in the first nine months were down year-on-year by 14% and 12% respectively. This decline is also reflected in operating income. Adjusted EBIT at €(157) million was significantly lower than a year earlier (€17 million).

At Industrial Components the bearings unit continued to perform strongly thanks in particular to the good order situation for wind energy in Germany and China. The forgings business – operating in an already weak market for truck and construction machinery components – was impacted by slowdowns at all major plants in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Overall order intake and sales were down by 21% and 17% respectively. Adjusted EBIT at €122 million was lower than a year earlier (€168 million).

Plant Technology increased its sales in the first 9 months by 6%, with a major contribution coming from chemical plant engineering. Compared with the prior year, which included major mining equipment and fertiliser plant orders, order intake was 38% lower, mainly as a result of pandemic-related project deferrals. Despite sales increases in chemical plant engineering, stable service business and positive effects from the cost-saving program, adjusted EBIT decreased to €(135) million (prior year €(114) million). Negative impacts included lower sales due to slower progress on cement projects and deferrals in order intake as a result of the pandemic.

Order intake at Marine Systems was down by 7%. Sales too were 9% lower at €1.2 billion, reflecting temporarily slower progress on submarine projects. However, buoyed by performance measures, adjusted EBIT was positive at €6 million (prior year: €0 million).

Materials Services continued to feel the effects of pandemic-related weak demand and declining prices in virtually all product segments, in particular in the 3rd quarter. The exception was plastics, which profited above all from the sale of transparent plastic sheets as protection against coronavirus. The pandemic-related temporary closure of the Italian stainless steel plant AST from the second half of March had a negative impact. Order intake and sales each decreased by 18%. The situation particularly in warehousing and distribution, the auto-related service centres and at aerospace weighed on business and led to negative earnings effects. Accordingly, adjusted EBIT was down year-on-year at €(62) million (prior year: €119 million).

The performance of Steel Europe was again characterised by the extremely challenging situation in the steel sector. Demand from the auto industry, which was already noticeably lower in March, slumped further in the course of the 3rd quarter, also due to declining order volumes from other industrial customers. The performance of the packaging steel operations was stable. Overall, order intake and sales after 9 months were down 24 and 20% respectively from the prior year. As a result of declining shipments and continuing cost pressure, adjusted EBIT slipped further into negative territory at €(706) million (prior year: €77 million). Launched in March, the Steel Strategy 20-30 aimed at sustainably improving competitiveness will now be implemented even more rigorously.

Presented as a discontinued operation, the elevator business recorded order intake and sales level with the prior year in the first 9 months. While the new installations and service business in the USA performed positively, Elevator Technology saw declines in Asia and Europe due to the coronavirus pandemic. Adjusted EBIT at €613 million was slightly lower than a year earlier in particular due to the negative earnings effects in Europe (prior year: €642 million).

Key figures first nine months 2019/2020 (full group)

In the first nine months of the 2019/2020 fiscal year thyssenkrupp (incl. discontinued operations) reports a net loss of €(1 978) million (prior year €(170) million). This was mainly due to weak operating performance as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Added to this are restructuring expenses for the implementation of the change process and expenses in connection with the elevator transaction. After deduction of minority interest the net loss was €(1998) million (prior year: €(207) million); earnings per share came to €(3.21) (prior year: €(0.33).

Free cash flow before M&A also remained clearly negative at €(3.5) billion, down €0.9 billion from the prior year. The main reasons for this were weak operating performance as a result of the pandemic and the payment of the fine in the heavy plate cartel case in the amount of the recognised provisions of €370 million.

As a result of the negative free cash flow before M&A and the effects of the remeasurement of lease liabilities in accordance with IFRS 16 in the amount of €1 billion recorded in the 1st quarter, net financial debt increased to €8.5 billion at 30 June 2020 (at 30 September 2019: €3.7 billion). At the end of June 2020 thyssenkrupp had available liquidity of €3.9 billion. Mainly due to the net loss, total equity at the reporting date was €2.2 billion lower than at 30 September 2019.

The closing of the sale of the elevator business on 31 July 2020 substantially improves the group’s balance sheet ratios. The payment of the purchase price results directly in a significant decrease in net financial debt and the creation of net financial assets, and a substantial increase in total equity.

At the beginning of May thyssenkrupp entered into a €1 billion credit facility under the KfW special programme to secure liquidity during the coronavirus pandemic until the closing of the elevator transaction. The credit facility was not drawn and ended with the closing of the elevator transaction.

2019/2020 forecast

Despite the cautious resumption of production following the easing of coronavirus measures in key industrial nations, international infection rates remain high and there is a continued risk of further waves of infection in the course of the year. For this reason and due to the continuing disruptions to economic and public life, forecasts for the remaining months of the fiscal year are still subject to major uncertainties.

It is already foreseeable that due to the temporary plant closures and production cutbacks by customers in the automotive industry, sales from continuing operations will decline significantly, above all in the 2nd half (prior year, continuing operations: €34.0 billion).

Depending on the speed at which production is restarted by customers, thyssenkrupp expects almost all businesses, with the possible exception of Steel Europe, to report a stable performance or a slight quarter-on quarter improvement in the 4th quarter. Nonetheless, adjusted EBIT from continuing operations is expected to be negative in the mid to high 3-digit million euro range. As a result, full-year negative adjusted EBIT of between €1.7 billion and €1.9 billion is likely. The year-on-year decline in earnings (prior year, continuing operations: €(110) million) is influenced heavily by the high loss in the steel operations of up to a good €1 billion (prior year, Steel Europe: €31 million).

Due to operating performance and the charge from the normalisation of net working capital in the amount of around €2.5 billion toward further continuous optimisation, the forecast for free cash flow before M&A of continuing operations is between €(5.0) billion and €(6.0) billion (prior year, continuing operations: €(1 756) million.

As a result of the elevator transaction the free cash flow of the group and the net income of the group in the current fiscal year will be significantly positive.

[1] Unless otherwise stated, all figures relate to the continuing operations, i.e. excluding the elevator business and individual units from Corporate Headquarters reported as discontinued operations.

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