Südzucker again raises group operating result forecast for fiscal 2023/24

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October 12, 2023 (press release) –

Südzucker AG's consolidated group revenues rose 10 percent to EUR 5,078 (previous year: 4,624) million in the first half of fiscal 2023/24 (1 March to 31 August 2023). While revenues in the CropEnergies and starch segments declined, revenues in the other segments grew.

Group EBITDA increased significantly to EUR 739 (previous year: 465) million.

In the same period, the group was also able to significantly improve the consolidated group operating result to EUR 592 (previous year: 316) million. A significant decrease in the CropEnergies and starch segments is offset by a significant increase in all other segments.

The sugar segment’s revenues rose significantly to EUR 1,951 (previous year: 1,443) million. This increase was achieved despite declining sales volumes as a result of the poor harvest in 2022, with significantly higher prices.

The operating result improved significantly, reaching EUR 380 (previous year: 16) million. A sharp rise in costs for raw materials and energy in particular was offset by higher prices generated since the end of the last fiscal year.

Throughout Europe, weather conditions in the spring and summer were characterized by changeable weather extremes. Extensive rainfall from the end of July into August caused beet growth to be above average, while sugar content remained at a low level. These growing conditions are reflected in the yield expectations. On average for all growing regions, a slightly below-average sugar yields are currently predicted. Above-average beet yields are thus offset by low sugar contents. The 2023 campaign kicked off on 5 September 2023 at Südzucker Polska's Cerekiew and Strzelin factories and is expected to run until February 2024 at some factories.

The special products segment's revenues of EUR 1,209 (previous year: 1,053) million were significantly higher than the previous year's figure. Notably higher prices were the main driver of this improvement.

Operating result rose significantly to EUR 95 (previous year: 40) million. Predominantly higher margins led to this overall positive development. In the first half of the year, the company was better able to pass on the impact of higher raw material, packaging and energy costs to the market through higher prices.

Revenues in the CropEnergies segment saw a significant decline to EUR 565 (previous year: 798) million as a result of significantly lower sales volumes due to scheduled maintenance shutdowns and significantly lower prices. Ethanol prices reached record highs during the same period of the previous year. 

Following the development of revenues, the operating result significantly lagged behind the exceptionally strong first half of the previous year at EUR 34 (previous year: 180) million. The decline in the result was driven primarily by the significant drop in revenues due to normalized prices for renewable ethanol. Significantly lower sales volumes likewise contributed to the decline in results. Increased raw material costs had a negative impact, while higher prices were realized for by-products.

The starch segment's revenues declined moderately to EUR 562 (previous year: 603) million. The overall increase in prices was unable to compensate for the significant decline in volumes. Ethanol prices were down significantly, but prices for starch products were higher overall than in the prior-year period. 

Operating result in the reporting period was down significantly to EUR 39 (previous year: 50) million. Overall, higher prices could not fully offset the decline in sales volumes and higher costs.

The fruit segment's revenues of EUR 791 (previous year: 727) million were moderately higher than last year. Due to price factors, revenues increased for both fruit preparations and fruit juice concentrates. This compensated for the significant decline in volumes of fruit juice concentrates. Sales volumes of fruit preparations remained stable at the previous year's level.

Operating result of EUR 44 (previous year: 30) million was significantly above last year's figure. Despite a slight decline in volumes and higher costs, the earnings contribution from fruit preparations rose due to noticeably higher margins. The fruit juice concentrates business also reported an increase in earnings. Higher prices more than offset the rise in costs and the significant decline in sales volumes.

The Ukraine war, which has continued from the start of fiscal 2022/23 to the present day, has fundamentally intensified the already high volatility on the target markets and led to price increases on the procurement markets, particularly in the raw materials and energy sectors. Moreover, further market distortions may arise in the EU as a result of the duty-free access granted to agricultural imports from Ukraine. The current reduced volatility notwithstanding, the economic and financial ramifications, the security of supply and the duration of this temporary exceptional situation - with regard to the further course of fiscal 2023/24 and also fiscal year 2024/25 - remain difficult to assess.

The group forecast for the 2023/24 fiscal year was first published on 15 December 2022, and increased on 18 April 2023 and 6 July 2023. Now it will be adjusted again in this half-year financial report. The company currently expects group consolidated revenues in fiscal 2023/24 to be between EUR 10.0 to 10.5 (previous forecast: 10.4 to 10.9; 2022/23: 9.5) billion, which is still an increase over the previous year.

Group EBITDA is likely to grow to a range between EUR 1.3 and 1.4 (previous forecast: 1.2 to 1.4; 2022/23: 1.1) billion.

Südzucker also expects the consolidated group operating result to be stronger - in a range between EUR 900 and 1,000 (previous forecast: 850 to 950; 2022/23: 704) million. 

Capital employed is expected to continue to increase moderately. Based on the aforementioned improvement in the operating result, Südzucker is projecting a significant increase in ROCE (2022/23: 9.9 %).

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Dan Rivard
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