Trading update for the nine months to September 2023
Resilient performance in challenging markets; profit guidance for FY2023
Bekaert has delivered a resilient performance in the first nine months of 2023, despite many of our end markets remaining challenging. Sales of € 3 355 million (-13% against the same period in 2022) were lower in this period, as anticipated, from the reversal of raw material cost inflation and the normalization of energy surcharges in previous periods, and lower volumes, partially offset by a stronger mix.
Bekaert continues to benefit from the execution of its strategy, with business selection driving price and mix improvements, alongside excellent cash conversion and cost discipline. The group is also making good progress in developing its new growth platforms and with the completion of the disposal of the Steel Wire Solutions businesses in Chile and Peru, Bekaert continues its repositioning into markets with higher growth and margin.
- Consolidated Sales of € 3 355 million in the first nine months of 2023 (-13%) driven by pricing reflecting lower raw material costs and lower volumes
- The phasing out of previous wire rod price increases and energy surcharges reduced revenues by approximately € 350 million and the lower overall volumes (-5%) reduced revenues by approximately € 180 million in the first nine months. Currency effects had an impact of around € -110 million.
- Successful focus on price and mix optimization towards higher margin products increased revenues by around € 150 million
- Ongoing and proactive cost management to support margins, including the closure of a plant in China in Q3
- Continued strong cash flow generation, due to further working capital management, especially on inventories
- Rubber Reinforcement - whilst demand and plant occupation have been strong in China, the anticipated weakness in Europe and North America have resulted in lower revenues
- Specialty Businesses - mixed performance across sub-segments, with excellent progress from Dramix® products in target markets and new contract wins improving mix, the successful commercialization of hydrogen activities (Currento®), offset by weaker demand in combustion technologies and filtration
- BBRG - very strong growth in both Ropes and A-Cords, sustained high order book and significantly increased demand for Armofor®
- Steel Wire Solutions - continued strong energy and utility markets in North America, with lower volumes in other regions
- Growth platforms continue to progress, with a developing partnership with Toshiba in hydrogen electrolysis and partnership with ABB to deliver a predictive maintenance services for mine hoist systems
- Commissioned 12 MWp solar power farm at plant in Burgos, Spain
- The disposal of Steel Wire Solutions businesses in Chile and Peru now completed
Despite the challenges in many of our end markets, Bekaert continues to benefit from actively managing pricing and business mix, and the transformational initiatives of recent years, which continue to improve operating margins, cash flow and overall business resilience. Whilst uncertainty remains for the financial year 2023, management is currently anticipating:
- Consolidated sales of approximately € 4.3 billion reflecting the ongoing reversal of raw material cost inflation and the normalization of energy surcharges in 2022
- EBITu margin in the range of 8.5-8.7% (up from 8.2% last year)
- Strong cash performance for the year, driven by ongoing working capital management
The Group expects the challenging demand environment to continue in most regions into Q1 2024 and Bekaert will remain focused on successfully managing these pressures, as it has done to date in 2023. The group will continue to strengthen its business fundamentals and resilience, and improve opportunities for growth, margin expansion and cash flow generation, and therefore we remain confident in our ability to deliver our strategy.