Austria’s voestalpine Group has announced record results for the business year 2021/22. Demand for the company’s steel and technology products was said to have developed strong trajectories in almost all market and product segments. Revenue rose 36.9% in a year-over-year comparison, to €14.9 billion. The operating result (EBITDA) also developed positively, doubling year over year to €2.3 billion (2020/21: €1.1 billion). Profit from operations (EBIT) increased from around €340 million in the previous year to €1.5 billion. The EBITDA margin amounted to 15.4%, and the EBIT margin to 9.7%.
The Automotive Components business segment which was strongly impacted by disruptions to supply chains saw good results and the development of the Railway Systems segment was once again stable. Following the economic recovery, the Aerospace segment – hugely impacted by the pandemic – reportedly developed as positively as the energy sector, which was able to profit from the rising oil & natural gas prices. The boom in the Warehouse & Rack Solutions business segment, which is driven especially by the growing trend toward e-commerce, continued in the reporting period.
“In the business year just closed, voestalpine once again demonstrated its great flexibility and adaptability,” stated Herbert Eibensteiner, CEO. “By maintaining our clear focus on measures to boost efficiency, we were able to exploit the positive economic environment during the business year as best we could. We succeeded in securing our operations through suitably adjusted measures within a very short time following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.”
“We will continue to concentrate on high-tech segments with the most demanding quality standards, and work together with our customers to drive innovation,” he continued. “As before, the stated goal is to continue driving the company’s value-enhancing growth. This is supported by our positive start to the business year 2022/23. We are based on an excellent financial footing and have a good level of orders for our high-quality products in the key segments, at least through to the Northern summer. However, uncertainties arise due to it being almost impossible to forecast economic development in the second half of the calendar year 2022.”
Active debt reduction measures over the past years resulted in further improvement to net financial debt, shrinking it to €-71.8 million for the business year just closed (2020/21: €-103.4 million), resulting in a profit before tax of €1.4 billion (previous year: €234.8 million). The result of discontinued operations includes a positive valuation for voestalpine Texas of €256.6 million. At €1.3 billion, profit after tax has also risen significantly (previous year: €31.7 million).
The gearing ratio (net financial debt as a percentage of equity) was again significantly reduced, to 32.4%, from its level of 48.5% in the previous year. Net financial debt is significantly lower, at €2.3 billion (previous year: €2.7 billion). This equates to the lowest year-end net financial debt since the business year 2012/13 and to the lowest gearing ratio since the acquisition of Böhler-Uddeholm in the business year 2007/08. The voestalpine Group’s equity surpassed the €7 billion mark for the first time in its history.
As of March 31, 2022, the number of employees in the voestalpine Group worldwide amounted to 50,200 (full-time equivalent) which is 3.2% (1,571) more than in the previous year.
Special steel plant in Kapfenberg starts up in late summer 2022
An advanced special steel plant at the voestalpine site in Kapfenberg will be commissioned this summer and is expected to be operational at full capacity from autumn. Despite a difficult operating environment and delivery bottlenecks in almost all sectors, work on the investment project continued without disruption.
The first facilities are already undergoing testing at the plant which will produce 205,000 tons of special steels for the international aerospace, oil & natural gas, automotive, and toolmaking industries. The new special steel plant is anticipated to secure around 3,000 jobs at the voestalpine sites in Kapfenberg and Mürzzuschlag. Costs are anticipated to rise by around 10% to 20% over the originally planned investment of €350 million due to challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and delivery delays from equipment suppliers.
The Group’s greentec steel initiative
greentec steel is the Group’s step-by-step plan for green steel production which aims to provide carbon neutral steel production using green hydrogen by 2050, for which the Group is already undertaking intensive research. In an intermediate step toward carbon neutral steel production, voestalpine is planning an incremental switch from the coal-based blast furnace route to electric arc furnace technology at the Group’s steel facilities in Linz and Donawitz as early as 2027. This conversion alone would allow carbon emissions from steel production to be significantly reduced by around 30% from 2027.
In March 2022, the Supervisory Board of voestalpine AG approved the initial implementation steps for the technological transformation. A decision by the Supervisory Board as to final approval of the investments required for the two electric arc furnaces will be taken next year, in turn making it possible to begin construction in 2024.