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Full Year Results 2020

Regional website Germany

Umicore announces record results and prepares for CEO succession

Record earnings in unprecedented conditions

Despite the severe disruption brought by the COVID-19 pandemic in its end-markets, Umicore posted its strongest financial performance ever, boosted by an exceptional PGM price environment. This underscores Umicore’s resilience and the merits of its strategy building on the complementarity of its activities. After a solid performance in the first half of 2020, with a strong result in Recycling offsetting the impact of the automotive industry downturn on the results of Catalysis and Energy & Surface Technologies, the second half of the year was marked by a strong sequential improvement in the Group’s revenues and earnings driven by continued robust operational performance and buoyant metal prices in Recycling, as well as strong growth in Catalysis. Full year adjusted EBIT was € 536 million, up 5% compared to the previous year. Adjusted EBITDA increased by 7% to € 804 million. 

Revenues in Catalysis decreased, albeit less than the global car market, due to Umicore’s strong market position in gasoline technologies for light-duty vehicles, particularly in China and Europe, as well as higher sales of heavy-duty diesel and fuel cells catalysts. Adjusted EBIT declined more than revenues for the full year reflecting the significant impact of the pandemic in the first half of the year.

Revenues of Energy & Surface Technologies reflected the impact of the pandemic as well as lower sales of cathode materials for high-end portable electronics and energy storage applications. The decline in adjusted EBIT was more pronounced reflecting significant negative operating leverage and the impact of an unfavorable pricing environment for cathode materials due to substantial industry overcapacity in China.

Recycling doubled its adjusted EBIT compared to the previous year, driven by strong growth across business units, reflecting high metal prices, high activity levels despite the COVID-19 crisis and favorable trading conditions.

Key figures

  • Revenues of € 3.2 billion (-4%)
  • Adjusted EBITDA of € 804 million (+7%)
  • Adjusted EBIT of € 536 million (+5%)
  • EBIT adjustments of - € 237  million,  primarily comprising restructuring charges, environmental provisions and impairments
  • ROCE of 12.1% (compared to 12.6% in 2019)
  • Adjusted net profit (Group share) of € 322 million  (+3%) and adjusted EPS of € 1.34 (+3%)
  • Cashflow from operations of € 603 million(vs € 549 million in 2019), despite a € 104 million increase in working capital requirements from higher PGM prices; free cashflow from operations of € 167 million (vs - € 39 million in 2019)
  • Capital expenditure plans were adjusted at the beginning of the pandemic and capex spend amounted to € 403 million (vs € 553 million in 2019)
  • Net debt at € 1,414 million, down from € 1,443 million at the end of 2019. This corresponds to a Net debt/ LTM adj. EBITDA ratio of 1.76.
  • Proposed gross annual dividend of € 0.75, of which € 0.25 was already paid out in August 2020.

Preparing for CEO succession

Since Marc Grynberg took over as CEO in 2008, Umicore has continued to grow fast while creating significant value for its stakeholders. He has turned the company into a global leader in clean mobility materials and recycling. In 2020, the company successfully completed its Horizon 2020 strategy and reached new heights. Everything is in place for Umicore to keep thriving – talented teams, a promising innovation pipeline and highly supportive megatrends – and the Supervisory Board and Marc Grynberg consider this to be an auspicious moment to start preparation for the CEO succession. The Supervisory Board will take the time to identify a successor who will build on these strong fundamentals and bring Umicore to its next stage of development.

Thomas Leysen, Chairman of the Supervisory Board commented : “Marc is Umicore’s longest serving CEO to date and, since 2008, he has shaped Umicore’s strategy with foresight and determination. I know Marc as a leader who is driven by values and cares for people, which has earned him the respect of all Umicore’s stakeholders. I have always enjoyed working with Marc and I am glad that Umicore can continue to count on his full engagement until a worthy successor is appointed and takes over.”

“I am proud of the manner in which we have transformed Umicore over the past twelve years and prepared this wonderful company for further growth. Our success would not have been possible without the support of Thomas Leysen, the Supervisory Board and the talent, dedication and hard work of my Management Board and our 11,000 colleagues.

I will lead Umicore with as much engagement, energy and passion as ever until my successor is in place and I will be pleased to assist the Board with a smooth transition in due course.” Marc Grynberg, CEO 

Maintaining the strategic course while responding effectively to the COVID-19 crisis

Despite the significant challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the long-term drivers that support Umicore’s growth strategy remain intact. The push towards clean mobility is stronger than ever, with various governments including green recovery measures and stimuli for cleaner mobility in their crisis recovery packages, in particular in Europe and China. Against this background, Umicore chose to move forward with its ambitious growth strategy in cathode materials and made significant progress with the construction of its greenfield plant in Nysa, Poland, which upon commissioning by the end of the first half of 2021, will be the first industrial-scale cathode materials plant in Europe. In addition, Umicore is moving ahead with its growth plans in fuel cells for automotive applications as well as the expansion in its light-duty and heavy-duty catalyst production in China in order to cater for the growing demand for its technologies as emission norms continue to strengthen. In Recycling, Umicore continues to invest to  improve the environmental and safety performance of the Hoboken recycling plant. 

Umicore has adjusted with agility to the challenges caused by the pandemic and has implemented strict hygiene and other precautionary measures in its facilities worldwide. Protecting employees’ health remains the top priority. In addition, Umicore implemented measures to protect cashflows and strengthen its liquidity. Finally, Umicore also reassessed its production footprint and the carrying value of certain assets. 


The global economy is showing signs of recovery from the severe downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of 2020. However, a high degree of uncertainty remains with respect to the evolution of the pandemic and the pace and speed of the recovery in different regions. As a result, visibility on end market demand remains poor. Against this backdrop and under the assumption that the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak would not result in additional material or protracted disruptions to the economy or Umicore’s operations, Umicore expects to achieve substantial growth in earnings in 2021, with growth in all business Groups. 

Catalysis should benefit from its leading edge technology offering in gasoline applications in China and Europe, the initial impact of China VI legislation for heavy-duty diesel applications and savings from the footprint adjustments and cost improvements carried out in 2020. 

In Energy & Surface Technologies, volume growth should more than offset the impact of pricing pressure, underutilized capacity in China and some € 50 million increase of fixed costs in Rechargeable Battery Materials. Adjusted EBIT for Energy & Surface Technologies is expected to grow meaningfully, in line with current market expectations.[1]

Recycling should continue to strongly benefit from favorable metal prices, a supportive supply mix as well as moderate volume growth in Precious Metals Refining. If current elevated metal price levels were to prevail throughout the year, the business group’s adjusted EBIT would increase very significantly compared to 2020. 
[1] Umicore has engaged Vara Research GmbH to survey brokerage analysts to provide analysts' consensus estimates to the market. The most recent consensus is available on

Notes: All comparisons are made with 2019, unless mentioned otherwise. All references to revenues in this document refer to revenues excluding metals (all revenue elements – value of purchased metals). 

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Britta Werner

Britta Werner

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