March 19, 2019 / 8:08 AM / 10 months ago

Wacker Chemie warns of weak first quarter on energy costs, low prices

Company sign of Wacker Chemie AG is pictured in the south-east Bavarian town of Burghausen April 1, 2014. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle/File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German speciality chemicals maker Wacker Chemie on Tuesday warned that core earnings would fall significantly in the first quarter of 2019, blaming high energy costs and lower prices for polysilicon, which it supplies to the solar industry.

“From today’s perspective, 2019 is not going to be an easy year,” Chief Executive Rudolf Staudigl said as the group published final results for 2018, along with an unchanged dividend proposal of 2.50 euros per share.

First-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation will be markedly below last year’s 254.5 million euros (217.58 million pounds), Wacker said. Sales for the period are expected to be in line with the 1.22 billion euros last year.

Shares in the company, which also supplies raw material for half the world’s chewing gum, were down 1.5 percent at 0813 GMT, with traders pointing to the weak outlook.

Staudigl said that polysilicon overcapacities in China, the world’s largest solar market, were hurting profits at the group’s polysilicon unit. He also singled out a strong increase in electricity prices in Germany.

“Against this background, we are doing our utmost to cut our costs further,” Staudigl said, not elaborating further.

Reporting by Christoph Steitz, editing by Louise Heavens and Kirsten Donovan

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