Resilient Renewable Products business – challenging market in Oil Products continued
First quarter in brief:
- Comparable operating profit totaled EUR 302 million (EUR 408 million)
- Operating profit totaled EUR 458 million (EUR 197 million)
- Renewable Products’ comparable sales margin was USD 699/ton (USD 685/ton)
- Oil Products’ total refining margin was USD 6.73/bbl (USD 11.03/bbl)
- Cash flow before financing activities was EUR -645 million (EUR -120 million)
- Return on average capital employed (ROACE) was 15.3% over the last 12 months (2020: 17.3%)
- Leverage ratio was 7.8% at the end of March (31.12.2020: -4.7%)
President and CEO Peter Vanacker:
“Neste’s 2021 started in the same way as the previous year ended: with a resilient Renewable Products business and challenging market in Oil Products. We posted a comparable operating profit of EUR 302 million in the first quarter, compared to EUR 408 million in the corresponding period last year. Renewable Products’ sales margin was healthy, sales volumes were high, and our production facilities reached a new quarterly production record. Oil Products continued to suffer from a weak refining market and oversupply caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Marketing & Services showed strong performance in a normally low season quarter. A weaker US dollar had a negative impact of EUR 57 million on the Group’s comparable operating profit year-on-year. Our cash flow before financing activities was impacted by a significant inventory build-up in preparation for the Porvoo refinery major turnaround and completion of the acquisition of Bunge’s refinery in Rotterdam.
Renewable Products posted a comparable operating profit of EUR 294 million (EUR 329 million) in the first quarter. The renewable diesel demand was robust, but the feedstock markets remained very tight. In this market situation we were very pleased to reach a healthy comparable sales margin of USD 699/ton, which was higher than in the corresponding period last year. As communicated earlier, we expect a lower contribution from margin hedging compared to 2020, which was an exceptional year. Our global sales volume allocation optimization model enabled us to deliver again good results. Our sales volumes were 743,000 tons, slightly higher than in the corresponding period last year. A weaker US dollar had a negative impact of EUR 37 million on the segment’s comparable operating profit year-on-year. During the first quarter our renewables production facilities operated at an average 104% utilization rate, and reached a new quarterly production record of 829,000 tons. Feedstock mix optimization continued, and the share of waste and residue inputs increased to 90%.
Oil Products posted a comparable operating profit of EUR -8 million (EUR 74 million) in the first quarter. The reference margin, reflecting the general market conditions, was still weak due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reference margin was significantly lower than in the corresponding period last year, which had a negative impact of EUR 59 million on the comparable operating profit. Sales volumes were also about 18% lower than in the first quarter of 2020 due to lower demand and preparations for the Porvoo refinery major turnaround, and the Naantali refinery closure in March. The lower sales volumes had a negative impact of EUR 38 million on the comparable operating profit year-on-year. Our short-term cost reduction measures were effective.
Marketing & Services generated a comparable operating profit of EUR 16 million (EUR 8 million) in the first quarter. Although sales volumes were still impacted by the COVID-19 related restrictions, we were able to increase our unit margins, which, together with good cost management lead to an improved result.
Neste continues to take the risks relating to the COVID-19 pandemic seriously. Our primary objective is to ensure the health and safety of our employees, customers, contractors and other partners as well as to ensure the continuity of our operations and secure supply of products to our customers. This is particularly important for the Porvoo refinery major turnaround, which is being implemented during the second quarter.
Uncertainty on the further development of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the global economy continues. However, we are focusing on the implementation of our growth strategy and continue to make progress in many areas. The refinery operations in Naantali were shut down in March, and we will focus the site on terminal and harbor operations. In the second phase of the transformation, the Porvoo refinery will be developed towards co-processing renewable and circular raw materials. In the short term, the focus is on the successful implementation of the Porvoo turnaround.
The Singapore renewables capacity expansion project is proceeding according to the revised schedule. It will expand our annual renewables production capacity by up to 1.3 million tons with full optionality by the first quarter of 2023. The acquisition of Bunge’s refinery plant in Rotterdam will increase our raw material pretreatment capacity for the production of renewable products. After a thorough study phase we also announced Rotterdam as the chosen location for our possible next world scale renewable products refinery. We now move to detailed engineering in preparation for a final investment decision late this year or early 2022. We are also very pleased with the final investment decision made on the Rotterdam Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) optionality project. It will extend our SAF capability by 500,000 tons by the end of 2023, and further strengthen our leadership position in the sustainable aviation market.
In March we established a Green Finance Framework to further integrate our sustainability ambitions into our financing, and successfully issued the first EUR 500 million green bond under the framework. We will continue on our journey to become a global leader in renewable and circular solutions.“
The Group’s first quarter 2021 results
Neste’s revenue in the first quarter totaled EUR 3,132 million (3,270 million).
The change in revenue resulted from higher prices, which had a positive impact approx.
EUR 500 million, and lower sales volumes, which had a negative impact of approx. EUR 400 million.
Additionally, a weaker US dollar had a negative impact of approx. EUR 200 million on the revenue compared to the corresponding period last year.
The Group’s comparable operating profit was EUR 302 million (408 million).
Renewable Products’ comparable operating profit decreased to EUR 294 million (329 million), mainly due to the weaker US dollar than in the first quarter of 2020.
Oil Products’ comparable operating profit decreased to EUR -8 million (74 million), due to the continued weak refining market.
Marketing & Services comparable operating profit was EUR 16 million (8 million), as a result of higher unit margins compared to the first quarter of 2020.
The Others segment’s comparable operating profit was EUR -1 million (-9 million).
The Group’s operating profit was EUR 458 million (197 million), which was impacted by inventory valuation gains of EUR 175 million (losses of 293 million), and changes in the fair value of open commodity and currency derivatives totaling EUR -20 million (82 million), mainly related to margin hedging.
Profit before income taxes was EUR 415 million (203 million), and net profit EUR 374 million (201 million). Comparable earnings per share were EUR 0.31 (0.50), and earnings per share EUR 0.49 (0.26).
Visibility in the global economic development still remains low due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a consequence, we expect volatility in the oil products and renewable feedstock markets to remain high.
Based on our current estimates and a hedging rate of 85%, Neste’s effective EUR/US dollar rate is expected to be within a range of 1.16-1.18 in the second quarter of 2021.
The Porvoo refinery major turnaround was started in early April and it is scheduled to last for approximately twelve weeks.
Sales volumes of renewable diesel in the second quarter are expected to be on the same level as in the previous quarter. Waste and residue markets are still anticipated to remain tight as their demand continues to be robust.
Our second-quarter sales margin is expected to remain healthy.
The margin hedging rate will be lower than normal in the second quarter, and the sales margin is not anticipated to be supported by similar hedging gains as in 2020.
Utilization rates of our renewables production facilities are forecasted to remain high, except for the scheduled refinery maintenance.
The Porvoo refinery turnaround is currently estimated to have a negative impact of approximately EUR 30 million on the Renewable Products segment’s comparable operating profit, mainly in the second quarter.
We have also scheduled a seven-week turnaround at the Singapore refinery in the third quarter, and a four-week catalyst change at the Rotterdam refinery in the fourth quarter of 2021.
The Singapore turnaround is currently estimated to have a negative impact of approximately EUR 80 million, and the Rotterdam catalyst change a negative impact of approximately EUR 50 million on the segment’s comparable operating profit.
Oil Products’ second-quarter market demand will continue to be depressed due to several extended lockdowns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reference margin is also expected to remain low and volatile.
The Porvoo refinery turnaround is currently estimated to have a negative impact of approximately EUR 110 million on the Oil Products segment’s comparable operating profit, mainly in the second quarter.
In Marketing & Services the sales volumes and unit margins are expected to follow the previous years’ seasonality pattern in the second quarter.
The COVID-19 pandemic is anticipated to have some negative impact on the demand and sales volumes.
Neste estimates the Group’s full-year 2021 cash-out capital expenditure to be approximately EUR 1.2 billion, excluding M&A.