KUALA LUMPUR: Petronas Chemicals Bhd posted a strong set of earnings in the fourth quarter ended Dec 31,2020 with net profit of RM466mil, underpinned by a recovery in petrochemical product prices, and it expects an improvement this year.
It announced on Tuesday its net profit rose by 37% from RM340mil a year ago. Its revenue dipped by 9.4% to RM3.84bil from RM4.23bil a year ago. Earnings per share were six sen compared with four sen a year ago.
It declared a second interim dividend for the year of seven sen per ordinary share amounting to RM560mil to be paid in March. This is in addition to the first interim dividend of five sen per share which was paid to investors in September 2020.
For FY2020, the total dividend amounted to 12 sen or RM960mil, translating into a dividend payout ratio of 59% of profit after tax and non-controlling interests (PATANCI).
For the financial year ended Dec 31,2020, its net profit fell by 42% to RM1.63bil from RM2.81bil in FY19. Its revenue declined by 12% to RM14.36bil compared with RM16.37bil.
Petronas Chemicals said for FY20, it recorded strong operational performance as the group registered 3% year-on-year improvement in production volume on higher plant utilisation rate of 94% against 92% in FY2019.
As for the lower revenue, it said this was due to lower average product prices, as the group effectively retained sales volume during market downturn caused by the pandemic and supported by subsequent market recovery in the second half of 2020.
Its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) was RM3.50bil. Ebitda margin was lower at 25% on the back of margin compression caused by lower prices.
Managing director/CEO Datuk Sazali Hamzah said 2020 was an exceptionally challenging year. The impact of Opec+ fallout and Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in supply chain disruption and dampened demand which caused a deep economic recession.
“Despite the abnormally tough environment, we delivered a positive set of results. We finished the year strongly thanks to our unwavering focus on operational and commercial excellence, supported by the 4Q2020 recovery momentum.
“In the last quarter, petrochemical product prices recovered further on improved crude oil prices coupled with demand growth fuelled by optimistic economic outlook, ” he said.
On the outlook, Sazali said the group is seeing recovery momentum so far in early 2021 and “we can expect improvement this year if demand continues to recover and crude oil prices remain at above US$50 per barrel, as these bode well for prices of our key products”.
He said to maximise profitability, Petronas Chemicals will continue enhancing its productivity and efficiency as well as applying strict financial discipline, particularly since it has planned several major plant maintenances.
Other priorities for the group are the start-up and commercial operations of the petrochemical facilities within the Pengerang Integrated Complex as well as kick-starting construction of other facilities within the Kerteh and Gebeng complexes.
He said it was important to achieve growth project targets which would enable it to future-proof the business against market volatility and changing dynamics of the oil & gas industry.
“We expect to spend around RM6bil in derivatives and specialty chemicals, over the next five to seven years. Investing in new facilities to produce a wider range of products will further strengthen our resilience, ” he said.