Recognized as a major player in the global chemical industry, the BASF Group continues to make strong efforts to remain a key player in this sector. This was demonstrated once again by the results recorded for the 2020 financial year. Indeed, in a difficult context imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the company has managed to show a good resistance. Here are the key points to remember about the company's performance in the year 2020.
In the fourth quarter of 2020, the BASF Group performed well. This was driven in particular by higher volumes and prices. In the last three months of this year, for example, the German company recorded quarterly sales of €15.9 billion, up 8% year-on-year.
Volumes showed a 7% increase in the quarter. Prices also increased by 7%, mainly driven by strong momentum in Surface Technologies, Agricultural Solutions and Materials. Portfolio effects contributed 1%.
These stem from the acquisition of Solvay's polyamide business. On the other hand, currency effects negatively impacted sales by 7%. In Q4-2020, the group's Ebitda reached EUR 2.0 billion, compared to EUR 1.6 billion a year earlier at the same time. Ebitda (before exceptional items) increased by 15% to €2.1 billion in the quarter.
In the period from October to December, the chemical group recorded an Ebit of 932 million euros, an increase of 61% compared to the previous year. Ebit (before exceptional items) amounted to 1.1 billion euros, up 32% year-on-year. This increase was driven in particular by significantly higher profits in the Materials, Chemicals and Industrial Solutions segments.
This performance enabled the company to offset falling contributions from other segments. On the other hand, the Ebit items came to minus 181 million euros, compared to minus 263 million euros (one year earlier).
In the twelve months of fiscal year 2020, BASF Group sales reached €59.1 billion. This was virtually unchanged from the previous year's level. Price increases and positive portfolio effects enabled the company to offset negative currency and volume effects.
For the year 2020, the German chemicals group generated an Ebitda of €6.5 billion, compared to €8.2 billion a year earlier. Ebitda (before special items) was €74 billion, down 11% from the previous year.
In 2020, the group's Ebit came to less than 191 million euros, compared to 4.2 billion euros a year earlier. Special items in Ebit are estimated at minus EUR 3.8 billion, compared to EUR 442 million in the previous year. This change in special charges is mainly due to non-cash impairments on property, plant and equipment and intangible assets in Q3-2020.
For the year as a whole, Ebit (before special items) came in at €3.6 billion, down 23% on 2019. All of the group's segments saw their results fall as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This was with the exception of the Industrial Solutions segment.
This segment recorded an Ebit (before special items) at the same level as the previous year. Furthermore, the decline in the company's results is due in particular to the decrease in the upstream activities of the Chemicals and Materials segments. At the same time, the Surface Technologies segment saw its results fall due to the sharp decline in demand in the automotive industry over the whole of 2020.
At 31 December 2020, cash flow from operating activities reached €5.4 billion, compared to €7.5 billion at the end of 2019. Furthermore, despite the strong impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the group's activity, the group ended the year with a fairly solid cash flow.
This amounted to 2.3 billion euros, compared to 3.7 billion euros the previous year. This decrease in cash flow over the one-year period is mainly due to the decrease in net profit and the increase in cash flow related to net working capital. In addition, a partial offset of this difference is helped by lower payments for intangible and tangible assets.
In view of the difficult business environment in 2020, the BASF Group has nevertheless made the payment of dividends a priority. At the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, the Board of Directors proposed a dividend of €3.30 per share for the year 2020.
In total, the amount paid to shareholders is 3 billion euros, as was the case in the previous year. In addition, the BASF Group reports a strong presence in the equity markets. The company is listed on the Prime Standard of the Deutsche Boerse AG in Germany.
The company is also included in the German national stock market index DAX 30. As of November 2021, the company's market capitalisation is estimated at more than EUR 50 billion.
The BASF Group aims to achieve CO2-neutral growth by 2030. It also plans to keep the greenhouse gas emissions of its production and energy procurement sites stable compared to their 2018 level.
In 2018, these emissions reached 21.9 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. For the whole of 2020, this value was 20.8 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, compared with 20.1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2019. This represents a year-on-year increase of 3.5%.