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Compagnie de Saint-Gobain   -  COD   

Full-Year Results 2019

Released 16:59 27-Feb-2020

RNS Number : 4089E
Compagnie de Saint-Gobain
27 February 2020








Paris, February 27, 2020, at 5:45pm



2019 Results


Sharp 50.2% rise in free cash flow

Recurring earnings per share up 11.0%

Increase in operating margin of 30 basis points


·      Organic growth at 2.4%, with prices up 1.8% and volumes up 0.6%

·      Increase in operating income to €3,390 million, up 5.7% as reported and 4.7% like-for-like, including a rise of 1.6% in the second half

·      30 basis point gain in the operating margin1 to 8.0% for the year and 8.4% for the second half

·      Further increase of 10.0% in recurring net income2 and 11.0% in recurring earnings per share

·      Sharp 50% rise in free cash flow3, representing a significant improvement in the free cash flow conversion ratio4 at 44%

·      Reduction in net debt, down to €10.5 billion at end-2019 from €11.2 billion at end-2018

·      "Transform & Grow" ahead of targets: (1) divestments representing around €3.3 billion in sales, ahead of the initial target, and continuation of selective acquisitions; (2) cost savings program delivering results faster than initially expected, with savings of €120 million in 2019 compared to savings of over €80 million announced at the end of July

·      2019 dividend up to €1.38 per share, to be paid wholly in cash






































Operating income










Recurring net income2










Net attributable income










Free cash flow3






1. Operating margin = operating income divided by sales.

2. Recurring net income = net attributable income excluding capital gains and losses on disposals, asset write-downs, material non-recurring provisions and Sika income.

3. Free cash flow = EBITDA less depreciation of right-of-use assets, plus net financial expense excluding Sika, plus income tax, less investments in property, plant and equipment and intangible assets excluding additional capacity investments, plus changes in working capital requirement.

4. Free cash flow conversion ratio = free cash flow divided by EBITDA less depreciation of right-of-use assets.

5. Figures for 2018 have been restated for IFRS 16 with retroactive effect from January 1, 2018.

6. EBITDA = operating income plus operating depreciation, less non-operating costs excluding Sika.





Pierre-André de Chalendar, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Saint-Gobain, commented:

"Saint-Gobain has delivered another significant improvement in its annual results, despite a less supportive market environment in the second half. Our strategic decisions are paying off, with the Group's positioning in the buoyant markets of energy-efficient renovation and other high value-added segments, and the swift and rigorous execution of our transformation plan. We have exceeded our commitments in terms of disposals, with around €3.3 billion in sales divested at the end of 2019 for over €1 billion. We continue to optimize our portfolio, with both divestments and value-creating acquisitions in the context of the new organization. For 2020, in a more uncertain market environment, Saint-Gobain should continue to benefit from its attractive positioning and from the results of its "Transform & Grow" initiative, and is targeting a further like-for-like increase in operating income with an uncertainty about the impact of the coronavirus."


Benoit Bazin, Chief Operating Officer of Saint-Gobain, commented:

"Our teams worked hard to make the roll-out of the new organization a great success, providing us with added agility and growth, along with increased efficiency for our customers. Thanks to the accelerated implementation of our cost savings plan, we were able to unlock €120 million in 2019 compared to over €80 million as previously announced. The rotation in our portfolio helped enhance the Group's growth and profitability profile, thanks both to the success of our divestment program and the completion of 18 selective acquisitions. The acquisition of Continental Building Products was finalized quickly on February 3, 2020 and the integration plan is already in place. It will strengthen our positioning on the dynamic North American construction market."


2019 performance



The Group's 2019 sales totaled €42,573 million, up 1.9% on a reported basis and up 2.4% like-for-like, with prices up 1.8% in a less inflationary environment for raw material and energy costs. Volumes were up 0.6% in a less supportive market environment overall.


Changes in Group structure had a negative 1.2% impact on sales, and a particularly negative impact of 4.7% in the fourth quarter, with negative structure impacts for the year of 5.8% in Asia-Pacific, of 3.0% in Northern Europe and of 0.4% in Southern Europe - Middle East & Africa. In 2019, the Group structure impact also reflects ongoing acquisitions in new niche technologies and services (Kaimann in technical insulation), in Asia and emerging countries (Join Leader in adhesives) and to consolidate our strong positions (Hunter Douglas in specialty ceilings). 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.


Sales growth benefited from a positive 0.7% currency effect, resulting mainly from the appreciation of the US dollar against the euro, despite the depreciation of Nordic krona and the Brazilian real.


Operating income rose once again in 2019, up 5.7% as reported and 4.7% like-for-like over the year, including a rise of 1.6% in the second half. The Group's operating margin increased to 8.0% from 7.7% in 2018 (7.5% as reported prior to the IFRS 16 adjustment), with 8.4% in the second half (versus 8.1% in second-half 2018).








Acceleration in the Group's transformation continues apace:


-   Divestments completed to date for an amount over €1 billion represent sales of approximately €3.3 billion, exceeding the initial target of more than €3 billion by the end of 2019. The full-year operating margin impact is an improvement of more than 40 basis points, reaching the "Transform & Grow" target. In 2019 alone, the positive operating margin impact was 15 basis points.


-   The program to unlock €250 million in additional cost savings over the period 2019-2021 thanks to the new organization is producing results faster than initially expected, with an accelerated timetable: a €120 million impact on operating income in 2019 (versus over €80 million estimated at the end of July), and overall savings of €200 million in 2020 and €250 million in 2021.


The Group also pursued its operational excellence program (outside the scope of "Transform & Grow"), which aims to offset inflation excluding that in raw material and energy costs. This program generated cost savings of €310 million in 2019 compared to 2018.



Segment performance (like-for-like sales)


High Performance Solutions (HPS) sales rose 0.4%, driven by good pricing progression. Volumes were down slightly, affected by the slowdown in industrial markets. Against this backdrop, the operating margin came in at 12.7% compared to 13.4% in 2018, with 12.5% in the second half (compared to 12.4% in second-half 2018).

Mobility sales were up slightly in a global automotive market that remains challenging (market volumes down around 6%), but benefited from a weaker comparison basis in the second half. Despite the ongoing contraction in Europe and China, the differentiating strategy focused on high value-added products, in particular those for electric vehicles, continues to pay off. Our activities in the aerospace market advanced significantly.

Activities serving Industry reported a decline in sales, with a slowdown in industrial markets in most regions in the second half.

Activities serving the Construction Industry saw further growth, buoyed by gains in market share, upbeat trends in external thermal insulation solutions (ETICS) and recent acquisitions.

Life Sciences continued to enjoy a strong growth dynamic in the pharmaceutical and medical sector, aided by recent investments in additional capacity.


Northern Europe reported a 1.7% rise in sales over the year, stabilizing in the second half
(-0.2%) with a particularly negative calendar impact in the fourth quarter.

Sales in Nordic countries rose, particularly in Distribution, with the renovation market remaining robust but new construction slowing down. The UK contracted amid a difficult economic environment, particularly in Distribution in the second half. Sales in Germany were up slightly despite a decrease in volumes in the second half with less favorable trends in non-residential; Eastern Europe continued to advance, benefiting from sales synergies within each country under the new organization.

The operating margin for the region rose sharply to 6.3% from 5.6% in 2018, fueled by a positive raw material and energy price-cost spread and the acceleration of "Transform & Grow" in terms of portfolio optimization and cost savings.



Southern Europe - Middle East & Africa saw a 3.3% rise in sales over the year and a 2.3% rise in the second half, despite a particularly negative calendar effect in the fourth quarter. Distribution continued to drive growth; industrial businesses progressed, led by energy efficiency solutions and to a lesser extent, facade solutions (glass and mortars).

France had a good year, buoyed by a construction market where renovation was supportive despite a slowdown in new construction in the second half. The Group's energy efficiency renovation solutions continued to perform strongly, with double-digit growth in insulation. Distribution continued to progress, benefiting from its stronger presence in digital and from training initiatives for trade professionals in the full range of Saint-Gobain solutions. The reorganization of technical sales teams in the context of the new organization is also paying off. Other European countries continued to progress and particularly Spain, driven by sales synergies unlocked by "Transform & Grow" initiatives and market share gains. The Middle East and Africa were down, especially Turkey in a very tough environment. Pipe continued its successful efforts to improve competitiveness in a difficult export market.

The operating margin for the region increased sharply, up to 5.4% from 4.6% in 2018, driven by a sharp improvement in France and the acceleration of cost savings under "Transform & Grow".


The Americas reported 2.9% organic growth.

North America was up 2.1% over the year and 4.7% in the second half, buoyed by better volumes in gypsum, where we have an enhanced range of acoustic solutions (specialty ceilings), and in exterior solutions, where roofing and siding sales teams were successfully combined. Insulation reported a good overall performance. After a good start to the year, prices were down slightly in the second half against a high comparison basis in 2018. Canada retreated over the year, affected by a decline in the construction market. Latin America posted 4.6% growth for the year, slowing to 0.5% in the second half, particularly in Brazil in glass amid a still uncertain macroeconomic environment.

The operating margin for the region came in at 10.1% compared to 11.2% in 2018, which had been bolstered by a very strong second-half performance; second-half 2019 (11.2%) improved on the first half (9.0%) despite a more difficult environment in Latin America, due chiefly to an upturn in volumes in North America.


Asia-Pacific delivered 4.1% organic growth, spurred by continued strong momentum in productivity solutions (gypsum and mortars). Glass declined in the second half owing to lower plant utilization rates given the contraction in the automotive market which put pressure on prices.

India progressed significantly, especially in gypsum which continued to deliver double-digit growth, and in glass to a lesser extent. The Group has developed a comprehensive integrated offering in residential and customer productivity improvement solutions (combining glass, gypsum and mortars) in the country, targeting new growth niches. Elsewhere in Asia, China reported a good year, notably benefiting from the start-up of a new plaster plant in the first half and strong growth in mortars aided by the combination of marketing and sales teams under the new organization. South-East Asia was driven by higher volumes, notably in Vietnam, but continued to face a fiercely competitive environment which put pressure on sales prices.

The operating margin for the region progressed to 10.6% from 10.4% in 2018, in particular thanks to higher volumes.




Analysis of the 2019 consolidated financial statements


The 2019 consolidated financial statements were approved and adopted by Saint-Gobain's Board of Directors at its meeting of February 27, 2020. The consolidated financial statements were audited and certified by the statutory auditors.













Sales and ancillary revenue












Operating income






Operating depreciation and amortization






Non-operating costs (excl. Sika)


















Sika non-operating costs






Capital gains and losses on disposals, asset write-downs, corporate acquisition fees and earn-out payments






Business income






Net financial income (expense)






Sika dividends






Income tax






Net income before minority interests






Minority interests






Net attributable income






Earnings per share2 (in €)












Recurring net income1






Recurring earnings per share2 (in €)


















Depreciation of right-of-use assets






Net financial expense (excluding Sika)






Income tax






Investments in property, plant and equipment and in intangible assets






     o/w additional capacity investments






Change in working capital requirements






Free cash flow3






Free cash flow conversion4












Lease investments






Investments in securities5












Consolidated net debt









Consolidated sales advanced 2.4% like-for-like, with a positive 1.8% price effect. On a reported basis, sales were 1.9% higher, with a positive 0.7% currency impact and a negative 1.2% Group structure impact reflecting the acceleration in the divestment program.


Consolidated operating income was up 5.7% on a reported basis and 4.7% like-for-like. The operating margin rose to 8.0% of sales from 7.7% in 2018 (7.5% as reported before the IFRS 16 adjustment). EBITDA increased by 4.8% to €4,870 million, while the EBITDA margin increased to 11.4% of sales from 11.1% in 2018.


Non-operating costs improved, at €421 million compared to €462 million in 2018 (excluding a one-off gain of €180 million relating to the Sika transaction), despite €130 million in restructuring costs associated with the execution of the "Transform & Grow" initiative. The accrual to the provision for the legacy asbestos liabilities of the former CertainTeed Corporation in the US now carried by DBMP LLC amounted to €88 million in 2019.

The net balance of capital gains and losses on disposals, asset write-downs and corporate acquisition fees represented an expense of €416 million compared to an expense of €2,074 million in 2018. In 2019, this item mainly includes write-downs of businesses sold. Business income was €2,553 million compared to €851 million in 2018.


Net financial expense excluding Sika remained virtually stable at €496 million versus €486 million in 2018 (excluding a €601 million gain relating to the Sika transaction). Dividends received from Sika totaled €28 million.

The income tax rate on recurring net income was 25% (versus 24% in 2018). Income tax totaled €631 million compared to €492 million in 2018.

Recurring net income (excluding capital gains and losses, asset write-downs, material non-recurring provisions and Sika income) increased 10.0% to €1,915 million.

Net attributable income rose sharply to €1,406 million from €397 million in 2018.


Investments in property, plant and equipment and intangible assets (capital expenditure) were down 2.0% to €1,818 million and declined as a percentage of sales, at 4.3% versus 4.4% in 2018. Additional capacity investments for organic growth represented €536 million, mainly in Life Sciences, Construction Industry, energy efficiency solutions (in Europe) and facade solutions (glass in Mexico and India).


Free cash flow increased 50.2% to €1,857 million (4.4% of sales versus 3.0% in 2018), with an increased free cash flow conversion ratio of 44% (versus 31% in 2018), thanks mainly to a significant improvement in working capital requirement and a decrease in non-operating costs. The operating working capital requirement came in at 27 days' sales at December 31, 2019 compared to 29 days at December 31, 2018.


Investments in securities totaled €297 million (€1,699 million in 2018 which included Sika for €933 million) and were made to develop innovative niches (American Seal, HTMS) and the Group's positions in emerging counties (mortars in Peru, plasterboard and ceilings in Latin America), and to consolidate our strong positions (acoustic solutions in the US with Norton Industries).


Divestments represented €1,052 million in 2019 compared to €148 million in 2018, and include the sale of Distribution in Germany, Hankuk Glass Industries in South Korea, Silicon Carbide and DMTP in France.


Net debt fell sharply to €10.5 billion at end-2019 from €11.2 billion at end-2018 as restated for IFRS 16 which increased net debt by €3.1 billion. The Group took into account a retroactive impact as of January 1, 2018 following the IFRIC's November 2019 decision to revise the lease terms for certain contracts (increasing net debt by €182 million). Excluding IFRS 16, the decrease in net debt was even more significant, falling to €7.3 billion at end-2019 from €8.1 billion at end-2018. Acquisitions over the past 12 months represented €297 million and divestments €1,052 million. Net debt represents 53% of consolidated equity compared to 62% as restated at December 31, 2018. The net debt to EBITDA ratio was 2.2 (1.8 excluding IFRS 16) compared to 2.4 (2.1 excluding IFRS 16) at December 31, 2018.



Update on asbestos claims in the US                                                                         


Some 2,600 new claims - now carried by DBMP LLC - were filed against the former CertainTeed Corporation in 2019, stable compared to 2018. At the same time, around 2,500 claims were settled (versus 4,300 claims in 2018), bringing the total number of outstanding claims to around 32,700 at December 31, 2019, compared to 32,600 at December 31, 2018.

A total of USD 59 million in indemnity payments were made in the year to December 31, 2019. The accrual to the provision for asbestos-related litigation and related costs amounted to €88 million in 2019.


DBMP LLC, which holds the legacy asbestos liabilities of the former CertainTeed Corporation, filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 relief in the US Bankruptcy Court on January 23, 2020. This stays all DBMP LLC asbestos-related litigation and all related costs, allowing DBMP LLC the necessary time and protection to negotiate an agreement to be approved by all claimants and by the court.

All estimated costs related to the resolution of the bankruptcy process of DBMP LLC have been provisioned in the Group financial statements, at USD 576 million at December 31, 2019.


At this stage of the proceedings, the stay of litigation results in all legal costs and indemnity payments related to DMBP LLC's asbestos-related claims being suspended, and no more annual charges in relation to such claims. As from January 23, 2020, DBMP LLC is no longer consolidated with the Group (together with its subsidiary, annual operating income of around €12 million).


Shareholder policy


In 2019, the Group bought back 8.5 million shares, contributing to the reduction in the number of shares outstanding (542.1 million at December 31, 2019).


At today's meeting, Compagnie de Saint-Gobain's Board of Directors decided to recommend to the June 4, 2020 Shareholders' Meeting to pay in cash an increased dividend of €1.38 per share. This dividend represents 39% of recurring net income and a dividend yield of 3.8% based on the closing share price at December 31, 2019 (€36.50). The ex-dividend date has been set at June 8 and the dividend will be paid on June 10, 2020.


During 2020 the Group will reduce the number of shares outstanding in accordance with its portfolio optimization and its wider capital allocation policy.


Strategic priorities: update on "Transform & Grow"


"Transform & Grow": acceleration in portfolio rotation

Divestments completed to date represent around €3.3 billion in sales, ahead of the objective set for end-2019: Northern Europe (Distribution in Germany, Optimera in Denmark, glazing installation in the UK and glass processing in Sweden and Norway, expanded polystyrene in Germany); Southern Europe - Middle East & Africa (DMTP, K par K, expanded polystyrene in France, Glassolutions in the Netherlands); Asia-Pacific (Pipe at Xuzhou in China, Hankuk Glass Industries in South Korea); High Performance Solutions (Silicon Carbide). The full-year operating margin impact is over 40 basis points, reaching the "Transform & Grow" objective. The total amount of divestments represents over €1 billion.

Acquisition of Continental Building Products finalized on February 3, 2020 for a total enterprise value of €1,287 million, with 2019 sales of USD 505 million and 2019 adjusted EBITDA of USD 126 million before synergies of at least USD 50 million on a full-year basis in 2022. The newly integrated team, composed of the most talented employees from the two companies, has already begun to deploy its action plan to unlock the expected synergies.

18 acquisitions completed in 2019 for €261 million, representing full-year sales of €189 million and EBITDA of €36 million.

The strategic review of the business portfolio in the context of the new organization will lead to an additional dynamic of divestments and acquisitions and has already enabled us to identify further opportunities for divestments that are currently at various stages of progress.


"Transform & Grow": acceleration in the cost savings program

The program to unlock €250 million in additional cost savings by 2021 thanks to the new organization is producing results faster than initially expected, with an accelerated timetable: a €120 million impact in 2019 (versus a previous expectation of over €80 million), overall savings of €200 million in 2020 (versus a previous expectation of €150 million) and overall savings of €250 million in 2021, with a positive impact on the operating margin of around 60 basis points.


2020 outlook


In 2020, in an environment marked by certain macroeconomic uncertainties, Saint-Gobain should continue to benefit from its attractive positions on the renovation and high value-added solutions markets. The impact of the coronavirus, which is affecting our operations in China (where sales represent around 2% of the Group), is currently difficult to evaluate. In this market environment, the Group expects the following trends for its segments:

High Performance Solutions: continued slowdown in industrial markets with an easier comparison basis in the automotive sector;

Northern Europe: mixed performance overall, with slight growth expected in Nordic countries but a more uncertain situation in the UK;

Southern Europe - Middle East & Africa: overall growth expected for the region. In France, markets should be supported by solid renovation activity, while new construction should see a moderate slowdown;

Americas: market growth in both North and Latin America;

Asia-Pacific: further growth excluding coronavirus impact.


2020 priorities:  

1)  Improvement in the Group's profitable growth profile, driven by:

the continuation of its portfolio optimization (divestments and acquisitions); the integration of Continental Building Products;

the strategy of differentiation and innovation, to improve our customers' productivity, develop sustainable solutions and contribute to the well-being of all;

2)  Increased free cash flow generation and further increase in operating margin, driven by:

constant focus on the price-cost spread thanks to strong pricing discipline;

the continuation of its cost savings program in the context of "Transform & Grow", unlocking additional savings of €80 million in 2020 (representing total savings of €200 million over the 2019-2020 period);

a decrease in property, plant and equipment and intangible assets investments (capital expenditure) to around €1.6 billion after an investment peak and thanks to continued optimization of maintenance capital expenditure;

the continuation of the operational excellence program, aimed at offsetting inflation (excluding raw material and energy costs): around €300 million in additional cost savings in 2020 (calculated on the 2019 cost base); continued discipline on cost structure.


For 2020, the Group is targeting a further like-for-like increase in operating income with an uncertainty about the impact of the coronavirus.






Financial calendar


- An information meeting for analysts and investors will be held at 8:30am (GMT+1) on February 28, 2020 and will be broadcast live on:


          - Sales for the first quarter of 2020: April 23, 2020, after close of trading on the Paris Bourse.

          - First-half 2020 results: July 30, 2020, after close of trading on the Paris Bourse.




Analyst/Investor relations


Press relations


Vivien Dardel

Floriana Michalowska

Christelle Gannage


+33 1 47 62 44 29

+33 1 47 62 35 98 +33 1 47 62 30 93



Laurence Pernot

Patricia Marie

Susanne Trabitzsch


+33 1 47 62 30 10

+33 1 47 62 51 37

+33 1 47 62 43 25





Indicators of organic growth and like-for-like changes in sales/operating income reflect the Group's underlying performance excluding the impact of:

·          changes in Group structure, by calculating indicators for the year under review based on the scope of consolidation of the previous year (Group structure impact);

·          changes in foreign exchange rates, by calculating the indicators for the year under review and those for the previous year based on identical foreign exchange rates for the previous year (currency impact);

·          changes in applicable accounting policies.


All indicators contained in this press release (not defined in the footnotes) are explained in the notes to the 2019 consolidated financial statements, available by clicking here:


The glossary below shows the notes in which you can find an explanation of each indicator.



EBITDA                                                                                                    Note 4

Net debt                                                                                                   Note 9 

Non-operating costs                                                                                Note 4  

Operating income                                                                                    Note 4  

Net financial income (expense)                                                              Note 9 

Recurring net income                                                                              Note 4 

Business income                                                                                     Note 4

Working capital requirement                                                                   Note 4 





Important disclaimer - forward-looking statements:

This press release contains forward-looking statements with respect to Saint-Gobain's financial condition, results, business, strategy, plans and outlook. Forward-looking statements are generally identified by the use of the words "expect", "anticipate", "believe", "intend", "estimate", "plan" and similar expressions. Although Saint-Gobain believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions as at the time of publishing this document, investors are cautioned that these statements are not guarantees of its future performance. Actual results may differ materially from the forward-looking statements as a result of a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, many of which are difficult to predict and are generally beyond the control of Saint-Gobain, including but not limited to the risks described in Saint-Gobain's registration document available on its website ( Accordingly, readers of this document are cautioned against relying on these forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made as of the date of this document. Saint-Gobain disclaims any intention or obligation to complete, update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

This press release does not constitute any offer to purchase or exchange, nor any solicitation of an offer to sell or exchange securities of Saint-Gobain. 


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Full-Year Results 2019 - RNS