Heavy Clay

Wienerberger posts close to record revenues in 2020 and becomes leader in the USA

23/03/2021

Revenues totalled 3.4 billion euros, with an EBITDA of 566 million euros. With the acquisition of Meridian Brick, the largest US clay façade solutions manufacturer, Wienerberger becomes market leader in North America

The leading international building solutions provider Wienerberger Group delivered a highly satisfactory set of results in 2020. Group revenues totalled 3.4 billion euros (-3%), almost matching the previous year’s record level of 3.5 billion euros. The substantial stability of sales in such a challenging year represents a major success for the Austrian group, which also reached an EBITDA of 566 million euros (compared to 594 million euros in 2019), well above the target of 545 million euros, thanks to the excellent performance recorded in the second half of the year, as well as to a strict cost management and efficiency-enhancing measures.

“2020 was the most challenging year in our 200-year history,” said Heimo Scheuch, CEO of Wienerberger (photo on the left), commenting on the year-end results. “Our robust results confirm Wienerberger’s resilience and clearly show that we are on the right course. In the past, we created the necessary prerequisites which now enable us to react swiftly to unforeseen events. Thus, we succeeded in weathering the crisis, consistently pursued our growth strategy, and positioned ourselves optimally for the future.”

Despite the restrictions, the Wienerberger Building Solutions division, which represents 62% of total group sales, generated revenues of 2.1 billion euros (2.2 billion euros in 2019) while EBITDA reached 414 million euros (-9%). Sales, especially in the building renovation and infrastructure segments, picked up again during the summer months and the group was able to fully meet the stronger than expected demand in the second half of the year.

In Belgium and the Netherlands business continued at a reduced level, while the growth in demand for roofing solutions led to higher profits.

Business activities in Germany and in the northern European façade solutions markets were the least affected by the restrictions, allowing production to continue without interruption.

Most plants in Central and Eastern Europe remained in operation, leading to excellent results in Austria, stable levels of sales in the Czech Republic and a satisfactory performance in Romania, while Poland and Hungary saw a slight decline in sales volumes.

“For 2021, we expect to see a trend in line with the second half of 2020,” Scheuch explained. “Demand will be highest in the renovation sector, while we expect the new residential market to remain stable or at the most to see a small contraction.”

  • Wienerberger becomes leader in the USA with the acquisition of Meridian Brick

In 2020 Wienerberger achieved satisfactory results also with its North America Business Unit, which registered a 3% decline in sales to 325 million euros but double-digit (23%) growth in EBITDA to 48 million euros. In June, the business unit saw a strong recovery in both the US and Canada, with demand returning to prior-year levels.

The Austrian group’s position in North America was further strengthened on 18 December, when Wienerberger signed the agreement with Boral America for the acquisition of Meridian Brick for a value of US $250 million.

Georgia-based Meridian Brick is the largest manufacturer of clay façade solutions by capacity in the USA and has a strong position in Canada.

Its product portfolio includes innovative systems for the building envelope for residential and commercial applications, including renovation. With more than 1,000 employees operating in 20 manufacturing plants across the USA and Canada, Meridian Brick generated revenues in excess of $400 million in the financial year to June 30, 2020.

The synergies created through the acquisition will double the US business unit’s revenues to more than $800 million, with EBITDA expected to exceed $120 million by 2023. Customers will gain access to an even greater range of building solutions with a strong focus on sustainability.

This acquisition marks a significant step in Wienerberger’s value-driven growth strategy. “This is our largest acquisition in fifteen years and significantly increases the scale and breadth of our offering in North America, establishing our leadership in the region and building a strong foundation for sustainable growth,” commented Heimo Scheuch.

  • Investments

In 2020, Wienerberger invested a total of 211.6 million euros (303.3 million euros in 2019), but has already announced an impressive 2021 investment plan, with 120 million euros earmarked for maintenance of industrial platforms and from 140 to 160 million euros for growth projects. The target is to increase EBITDA from 600 to 620 million euros, thereby returning to pre-crisis levels regardless of the ongoing Covid-19 challenges.