- Volumes down 5.5% as a result of disruptions related to the coronavirus pandemic, with very different situations from one country to the next
- Prices holding up well, up 0.6% in a slightly inflationary cost environment
- Negative currency impact of 0.5% and negative Group structure impact of 4.4%, reflecting disposals carried out in the context of “Transform & Grow” and the consolidation of Continental Building Products
- No dividend distribution in respect of 2019
- General Shareholders’ Meeting to be held behind closed doors on June 4, 2020 and streamed live on the Group’s website
Pierre-André de Chalendar, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Saint-Gobain, commented:
“In the unprecedented context of the coronavirus pandemic, Saint-Gobain has reacted firmly and efficiently thanks to the new organization by country and by market, taking decisions locally and coordinating internationally. Our priorities are clear. First and foremost, we want to protect the health and safety of the Group’s employees and other stakeholders across the globe. Secondly, we have further strengthened our liquidity and cash with new financing facilities, significantly cut planned investments and are strictly monitoring working capital. In addition to this financial solidity, the Group is adapting its production by reducing costs and using the available government-backed measures, particularly in terms of partial unemployment. Together with Benoit Bazin, Chief Operating Officer, I would like to thank all of our teams for their commitment and their responsiveness, and for leading by example. In the current context, the Board of Directors has today decided not to recommend any dividend distribution to the June 4, 2020 Shareholders’ Meeting. Depending on how the situation evolves, it will review the Group’s shareholder return policy by the end of the year.
Given the impact of the global economic crisis caused by the coronavirus, the Group expects a challenging second quarter 2020 before a recovery in the second half. Due to the scale of the current uncertainties and the very different patterns of recovery from one country to the next, the Group is not currently in a position to give an earnings outlook for 2020.”
Sales were down 4.9% on a like-for-like basis. Despite a good start to the year in the European Regions and in the Americas, March saw the effects of the coronavirus spread beyond Asia-Pacific to the rest of the world. Volumes contracted 5.5% while prices rose 0.6% amid low inflation in energy and raw material costs.
On a reported basis, sales totaled €9,363 million, with a negative currency effect of 0.5% related mainly to the depreciation of the Brazilian real and Nordic krona. Note that the depreciation of these currencies was more pronounced in March alone (down 2.2%), along with that of the pound sterling and other emerging country currencies.
Changes in Group structure had a negative 4.4% impact on sales, chiefly reflecting disposals carried out as part of “Transform & Grow”, with negative structure impacts of 11.1% in Northern Europe (Distribution in Germany, Optimera in Denmark), 3.0% in Southern Europe - Middle East & Africa (in France with DMTP and K par K in distribution and expanded polystyrene, in the Netherlands with Glassolutions) and 9.3% in Asia-Pacific (Hankuk Glass Industries in South Korea). The structure impact also reflects the consolidation of our strong positions (Continental Building Products in North America as from February), and acquisitions in new niche technologies and services (American Seal), as well as in emerging countries (gypsum and mortars in Latin America). In light of the hyperinflationary environment in Argentina, this country which represents less than 1% of the Group’s consolidated sales, is excluded from the like-for-like analysis.