Stripping out the coronavirus impact, the Group’s performance, in a less favorable economic environment than in 2019, was supported by the resilience of Specialty Materials and, in particular, strong growth of the Adhesive Solutions segment. Moreover, the balance sheet and liquidity levels remain very solid.
Sales were €2.1 billion, down 5.7% year on year, marked by the impact of COVID-19, while EBITDA was €300 million, down 19% on first-quarter 2019, mainly impacted by the effects of COVID-19. Close-to-balance free cash flow, of negative €38 million, reflecting the seasonal increase in working capital.
“Confronted with the COVID-19 health crisis, our priority is first and foremost to protect the health and safety of the Group’s women and men,” Thierry Le Hénaff, Arkema’s chairman and CEO, said. “I would like to sincerely thank them for their commitment and responsiveness during this period, which requires us to continuously adapt our operating procedures.
The first-quarter financial performance, which was down year on year, was significantly marked by the initial impacts of the pandemic, but nevertheless allowed the Group to maintain a very solid financial structure, thanks in particular to the contribution of Specialty Materials,” Le Hénaff added. “Sales in the second quarter will be strongly affected by the sharp drop in global demand resulting from the extensive lockdown measures put in place by governments in many countries. The Group is adjusting to this situation by taking decisive measures to adapt its costs and investments and should also benefit from the diversity of its end markets and its balanced geographical footprint.
“Building on the strength of these elements, and while remaining attentive to the evolution of the global context, I am confident in Arkema’s ability to manage this highly complex period and emerge from it well positioned for the future. On this basis, we intend to continue implementing the ambitious transformation strategy presented to the market on April 2, 2020, with the aim of making Arkema a pure Specialty Materials player by 2024,” he concluded.