VERBIO AG: Record result and record sales; Germany finally taking serious steps to address decarbonisation in transport; legal requirements for CO2 savings increase from 6 percent to 25 percent in 2030* ; very attractive market environment for advanced biofuels until 2030; comprehensive investment programme for Germany
Financial year 2020/2021 in figures: EBITDA of EUR 166.3 million, up 36.2 percent. Sales revenues of EUR 1.0 billion. EBITDA margin 16.2 percent. Equity ratio 75.1 percent. Proposed dividend of EUR 0.20 per share.
Outlook for 2021/2022: EBITDA forecast for 2021/2022 of approximately EUR 150 million. Net cash at the end of the financial year 2021/2022 of approximately EUR 50 million. Demand for renewable fuels in Germany to grow by 400 percent by 2030. Biomethane makes the break-through for use as a fuel in the heavy goods transport sector; construction of a liquefaction plant and installation of 20 BioLNG filling stations by the end of 2023. Comprehensive investment programme to expand the Group’s German locations. Project VerBioChem, our launch into the decarbonisation of the chemical industry.
Leipzig, September 22, 2021 – VERBIO Vereinigte BioEnergie AG has again generated record results with record levels of sales revenues in the financial year 2020/2021. For the first time the Group’s sales revenues exceeded one billion euros, with an increase of 17.6 percent to EUR 1,026 million (2019/2020: EUR 872.4 million).
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 36.2 percent to EUR 166.3 million. The Group’s earnings before taxation and interest (EBIT) increased to EUR 136.6 million, an increase of 48.6 percent (2019/2020: EUR 91.9 million). The net result amounted to EUR 93.5 million (2019/2020: EUR 63.8 million), after deduction of current and deferred taxes of EUR 41.8million (2019/2020: EUR 27.2 million). Based on the result for the period, earnings per share (basic and diluted) were EUR 1.48 and EUR 1.47 respectively (2019/2020: EUR 1.01 and EUR 1.01 respectively).
Development of the Biodiesel, Bioethanol and Other segments
Sales revenues in the Biodiesel segment in the financial year 2020/2021 amounted to EUR 729.9 million (2019/2020: EUR 588.2 million). Biodiesel production amounted to 601,257 tonnes (2019/2020: 559,735 tonnes), once again exceeding the record level of production set in the previous year. The Biodiesel segment contributed to the Group’s results with an EBITDA of EUR 93.2 million (2019/2020: EUR 46.1 million).
The Bioethanol segment generated revenues of EUR 286.6 million in 2020/2021 (2019/2020: EUR 275.2 million). The production of Bioethanol was at a similarly high level to the previous year, at 233,284 tonnes (2019/2020: 236,676 tonnes). The production of biomethane increased slightly to 794.8 GWh (2019/2020: 784.4 GWh). The Bioethanol segment contributed to the Group’s results with an EBITDA of EUR 70.6 million (2019/2020: EUR 74.0 million).
In the financial year 2020/2021 the Other segment generated revenues – primarily from transport and logistics services – totalling EUR 16.7 million (2019/2020: EUR 15.8 million), and an EBITDA of EUR 2.5 million.
Net assets and financial position
Driven by the higher net result for the period, the cash flow from operating activities for the reporting period totalled EUR 117.2 million, a further significant year-on-year increase compared to the previous year (2019/2020: EUR 71.7 million).
At June 30, 2021 bank and loan finance arrangements of EUR 30.0 million are more than offset by cash and cash equivalents of EUR 105.0 million and other cash balances held in segregated accounts of EUR 25.2 million, so that the reported net cash balance at the balance sheet date amounted to EUR 100.2 million (June 30, 2020: EUR 55.9 million). Equity totalled EUR 509.8 million (June 30, 2020: EUR 390.8 million). The equity ratio increased to 75.1 percent (June 30, 2020: 73.8 percent).
Cash outflows for investments in property, plant and equipment totalled EUR 67.1 million in the financial year 2020/2021 (2019/2020: EUR 68.0 million). VERBIO’s investments were focussed on the completion of the straw biomethane plants in India and the USA. The commissioning of these plants commenced in the first quarter of the new financial year.
Business performance in Q4 2020/2021
In the fourth quarter, record sales revenues of EUR 309.1 million were generated with record earnings (EBITDA) of EUR 53.5 million. This is particularly impressive as in the fourth quarter the volumes of fuel sales, and the associated demand for biofuels, declined compared to the five-year average as a result of the lockdown. As a result of the increased efforts worldwide to combat climate change, in particular in the transport sector, there was an increase in demand for renewable fuels, especially for fuels from waste and residual products. The world market prices for used vegetable and animal fats increased to the levels of the price of palm oil, reaching new highs. This largely explains the significant increase in sales in the Biodiesel segment in the financial year just ended. The large number of new projects for HVO plants in the USA and worldwide will lead to increases in demand volumes for vegetable and animal fats which is likely to lead to further increases in prices.
The increased demand for renewable fuels, a large number of new laws, requirements and subsidy programmes coming from the German government for renewable fuels, low-emission vehicles for heavy goods vehicles on the roads, as well as the exemption from tolls for heavy goods vehicles powered by CNG/LNG fuels and the introduction of a CO2 duty on fossil energy sources will all have a positive effect on the market environment from 2022. In Germany alone the obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is increasing from 6 percent currently to 25 percent by 2030. Particularly attractive is the market environment for advanced biofuels such as biomethane from straw, which is awarded a double credit for legal obligation quota purposes when the minimum quota is exceeded. The credits for greenhouse gas quota purposes awarded for the use of fossil natural gas will be ended from 2022, as will the credits awarded for 1.2 percent Upstream Emission Reductions (UER) from 2027. This will generate further demand for renewable advanced biofuels. Biomethane has made its breakthrough for use as a fuel in the heavy goods transport sector; the number of registrations for CNG/LNG heavy goods vehicles is very promising and creates the needed demand for more biomethane in transport. In comparison with 2019 the demand for biomethane has increased by 300 percent. Germany is one of the first EU states to start the implementation of the ambitious Renewable Energy Directive II into national law, with other EU states following soon.
Comprehensive investment programme at existing locations
The new legal framework has created the long-awaited opportunity – following on from the electrification of the passenger vehicle sector – to focus on the decarbonisation of the commercial transport sector as well. We are reacting to these developments with a comprehensive investment programme to expand our existing production locations.
In doing so, the focus is on expanding the production capacity for advanced biofuels at the Zörbig, Schwedt, Pinnow and Nevada/Iowa locations. In addition to increasing the production capacity for biomethane we will in particular increase the capacity for bioethanol by 50 percent. The production capacity of the biorefinery in Pinnow will be doubled.
In order to meet the increased demand for BioLNG, a liquefaction plant with an annual capacity of approximately 60,000 tonnes will be built at the Zörbig location to convert green molecules from the biomethane plant directly into a liquid form. In parallel, we will invest in 20 BioLNG filling stations across Germany to meet the increasing demand for BioLNG for commercial vehicles. This means that in future we will cover the entire value added chain from capturing raw materials to filling the tanks of heavy goods vehicles.
In the Biodiesel segment the existing manufacturing capacity for advanced Biodiesel at the Schwedt location will be doubled from 50,000 tonnes annually to approximately 100,000 tonnes annually.
As a result of the planned investments, our production capacity for advanced biofuels will be more than doubled by 2023.
In the USA, too, our biomethane capacity will be expanded from 20 MW to 80 MW. We will implement the VERBIO biorefinery concept in the USA at the Nevada/Iowa location. In future, the raw material for the biomethane plant will, in addition to straw, also include the residual waste from the production of bioethanol (distillation waste). The biorefinery is scheduled for completion by the end of 2022. For this purpose, further investments of USD 60 million have been approved by the VERBIO AG Supervisory Board.
BioLNG will be a global mega trend. For this purpose, we plan to open a global trading desk for advanced biofuels, in particular for advanced biomethane, in Stamford, Connecticut in the USA. The activities of this new unit will commence with operations in the USA.
Launch into the decarbonisation of the chemical industry
In addition to the transport sector, the chemical industry is also facing the challenges associated with converting production from fossil to renewable hydrocarbons. We will commence with the construction of the first ethenolysis plant worldwide. We have developed the technology needed for this plant internally in recent years. Based on our rapeseed oil methyl ester we will manufacture, on a non-fossil basis, three new products (9-DAME, 1-Decene and Heptene) which are used as raw materials in various speciality chemical applications. This will open up new markets for us, which promise to generate margins in the future that are higher than can be obtained in the transport sector. The investment costs for the ethenolysis plant in Germany are in the range of EUR 60 million. The commissioning of the plant is planned for mid-2023.
The ethenolysis plant is based on a catalysator provided by our subsidiary company XiMo Kft., Hungary. We have made great steps forward in the development of this catalysator, and reduced the manufacturing cost significantly. We will be able to reduce the costs further with the construction of an industrial catalysator production plant in Budapest. Looking ahead, we expect further application possibilities for XiMo Kft.’s catalysators in other areas in the organic chemicals sector outside VERBIO.
With this investment programme VERBIO is reacting to the new positive framework conditions in the transport sector in Europe, and to the increasing demands placed on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in other sectors.
The aggregate investment costs are in the range of EUR 300 million until end of 2023.
In our view, the developments in society at large over the past twelve months, combined with the new legal framework conditions, are an important milestone and a clear commitment by society to decarbonisation. The battle against climate change now appears to be starting in earnest.
Dividend and outlook for the financial year 2021/2022
At the annual general meeting to be held on February 4, 2022 the Management and Supervisory Boards will propose the payment of a dividend of EUR 0.20 per qualifying share, which is unchanged compared with the previous year (2019/2020: EUR 0.20)
Based on current sales and raw material price levels and the planned production capacity usage (but not making any adjustments for potential effects on results caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic), the Management Board of VERBIO Vereinigte BioEnergie AG expects to achieve an EBITDA for the financial year 2021/2022 of around EUR 150 million. The investment programme will be largely financed using the free cash reserves generated in previous financial periods and cash flows from current operations. The Management Board expects that the Group will have net financial assets of approximately EUR 50 million at the end of the financial year 2021/2022.
Detailed information on business developments in the 2020/2021 financial year is provided in the annual report for the financial year 2020/2021 and in the non-financial statement, which can be viewed from 9 a.m. at https://www.verbio.de/en/investor-relations/news-publications/financial-reports/.
This publication contains forward-looking statements that are based on assumptions and estimates made by the management of VERBIO Vereinigte BioEnergie AG. Although the Company’s management is of the opinion that these assumptions and estimations are realistic, actual future developments and actual future results may differ significantly from these assumptions and estimates due to a variety of factors. For example, these factors can include changes to the overall economic climate, changes to the legal and regulatory framework in Germany and the EU, and changes in the industry. VERBIO can give no guarantees and accepts no liability as to whether future developments and the results actually achieved in future will match the assumptions and estimates made in this publication.
* Act on the Further Development of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Quota approved by the German Parliament on May 21, 2021.