Syngenta Half Year Results 2009 First half resilience: higher prices, successful risk management

BASEL, Switzerland, July 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --

  • Sales $6.7 billion: up 2 percent CER(1), 9 percent lower as reported
  • Crop Protection sales up 1 percent(1) at $5.0 billion
  • Seeds sales up 7 percent(1) to $1.7 billion
  • EBITDA $2.0 billion, up 4 percent CER
  • Earnings per share(2) $15.18, 8 percent lower
  • Earnings per share $14.78 after restructuring and impairment
                           Reported Financial      Excluding Restructuring,
                                Highlights                Impairment
                          ---------------------  ---------------------------
                         H1 2009 H1 2008 Actual  H1 2009 H1 2008 Actual CER(1)
                              $m      $m      %       $m      $m      %     %
                              --      --     --       --      --     --    --
    Sales                  6,655   7,295    - 9    6,655   7,295    - 9    +2
    Net Income(3)          1,385   1,519    - 9    1,423   1,576   - 10
    Earnings per share    $14.78  $15.93    - 7   $15.18  $16.53    - 8

Mike Mack, Chief Executive Officer, said:

"In the first half of 2009 Syngenta achieved further underlying sales growth following an exceptional year in 2008. This performance, in the context of rigorous credit management in emerging markets and generally adverse weather conditions in the second quarter, attests to the strength of our portfolio and our leading market positions. Price increases offset lower volumes and higher raw material costs, although significant currency movements impacted reported earnings. In Crop Protection, the achievement of our target for price increases across the business clearly demonstrates the value which our products offer to growers. In Seeds, we saw growth across all product lines led by Corn & Soybean, where the investments of recent years are increasingly apparent in the quality of our technology. Seeds profitability improved noticeably in the first half and we are firmly on track to meet our target of a 15 percent EBITDA margin for this business in 2011.

"We continue to make significant investments in order to secure the long term growth of our business. We have expanded our R&D network and are engaging in a number of collaborations and cross-licensing agreements which will enable us to leverage our unique technology platforms. Our capacity expansion program for key Crop Protection compounds is well underway and will reinforce our competitive strength in high margin segments. Our investments are underpinned by a strong balance sheet, sustained by the prudent management of our business in this year's uncertain economic environment."

Financial Performance 1(st) Half 2009

Sales $6.7 billion

Sales at constant exchange rates (CER) increased by two percent driven by higher pricing across all product lines. Crop Protection sales* rose by one percent (CER) and Seeds sales by seven percent (CER). Reported sales in US dollars were nine percent lower owing to currency movements.

EBITDA margin 30.5 percent

EBITDA was $2.0 billion, an increase of four percent (CER). Profitability improved in Seeds, while in Crop Protection price increases more than offset higher raw material costs related to the oil price escalation in 2008. Operational efficiency savings were supplemented by strong cost control enabling further investment in R&D. The underlying improvement in profitability was masked by the appreciation of the dollar, which had a negative impact on EBITDA of $349 million.

Earnings per share $15.18

Price increases across the business offset the impact of lower volume and higher raw material costs. An eight percent decline in earnings per share excluding restructuring and impairment was due to currency movements. After charges for restructuring and impairment, earnings per share were $14.78 (2008: $15.93).

Business Highlights

Crop Protection

In the first half of 2009, Syngenta continued to demonstrate price leadership, achieving an overall increase of seven percent, ahead of target. Excluding glyphosate, prices were up by eight percent. Sales volume was affected by a late start to the season caused by unfavorable weather. In a number of emerging markets, we deliberately reduced volume to take account of higher levels of risk.

These risk management measures had a marked impact in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Sales in Western Europe were slightly up with a strong performance in France following new product registrations. NAFTA showed robust sales following an exceptional performance in 2008, with price realization augmented by strong volume growth in Canada. Sales in Latin America, where the main season takes place in the second half, were lower due to drought in Argentina and southern Brazil, and to risk management. In Asia-Pacific, the farm economy has proved resilient to the global economic crisis and sales continued to grow strongly across the region.

Product line growth was led by Selective Herbicides, with strong growth in cereal herbicides and a resurgence in demand for soybean herbicides in the USA as a consequence of increased acreage and weed resistance. Non-selective Herbicides also performed well, with positive contributions from both REGLONE((R)) and TOUCHDOWN((R)). Accounting for seven percent of Crop Protection sales, TOUCHDOWN((R) )showed modest growth in both volume and price, with pressures in the US glyphosate market apparent only towards the end of the period. Both Fungicides and Insecticides were particularly affected by the risk management measures taken in Latin America. In the Northern hemisphere, fungicide usage was reduced owing to lower cereals acreage and adverse weather. Seed Care sales continued to grow strongly driven by CRUISER((R)).

In the non-agricultural Professional Products businesses, the effects of the economic downturn were clearly apparent in the golf course and professional horticulture segments, where customers purchased more cautiously.

New products: Sales of new products (defined as those launched since 2006) increased by 28 percent (CER) to $241 million. AXIAL((R)) continued to grow strongly particularly in Canada. The roll-out of REVUS((R)) and DURIVO((R)) in new markets augmented underlying growth.

R&D pipeline: The combined peak sales potential of our Crop Protection pipeline is in excess of $2 billion. We have several new products in late development including INVINSA(TM), a unique product for crop stress protection in field crops; isopyrazam (520), a broad spectrum cereal fungicide; sedaxane (524), a seed treatment fungicide; and bicyclopyrone (449), a new herbicide for corn and sugar cane.

EBITDA increased by one percent (CER) to $1.7 billion with a margin (CER) of 36.6 percent (2008: 36.3 percent).

Seeds

Seeds growth was driven by price increases of 11 percent, which reflected ongoing increases in the value of the portfolio and more than offset the impact of higher grower costs.

Performance was led by Corn & Soybean, with growth in both NAFTA and Asia more than offsetting the impact of risk management and lower corn acreage in Eastern Europe and Latin America. In the USA, although the market was characterized by delayed planting decisions and acreage uncertainty, sales of our triple stack corn seed AGRISURE((R) )3000 GT showed a significant advance. Further advances in portfolio quality will be achieved through stepping up combination of our proprietary traits with elite germplasm.

Diverse Field Crops showed solid growth across the business. Our risk management measures in Eastern Europe resulted in improved collections, allowing the expansion of sunflower sales in the second quarter in a market moving towards higher quality hybrids. In the USA sales of glyphosate-tolerant sugar beet continued to increase following its successful launch last year.

Vegetables & Flowers: Growth in Vegetables reflected the ongoing expansion of high value products such as peppers where the portfolio has been enhanced both through acquisitions and through in-house marker assisted breeding success. Flowers growth was due to the consolidation of Goldsmith Seeds Inc. and Yoder, with the underlying business affected by the downturn in consumer purchasing.

R&D pipeline: In February Syngenta received EPA approval for two insecticidal trait stacks containing its Agrisure Viptera(TM) trait. Agrisure Viptera(TM) controls a broad spectrum of lepidopteran corn pests and is awaiting USDA approval which would allow an initial launch by the end of the year.

In April, Syngenta and Dow AgroSciences announced an agreement to cross-license their respective corn traits for commercialization within their branded seed businesses. The agreement will allow Syngenta, from 2011, to offer its US customers multiple modes of action targeting refuge reduction and improved efficacy.

Syngenta's corn and soybean pipelines contain a number of other products including input, output and agronomic traits, with a combined peak sales potential of around $2 billion.

EBITDA of $314 million, up 31 percent (CER), was driven by portfolio transformation and the leverage of R&D and marketing expenditure. The EBITDA margin (CER) improved to 19.2 percent (2008: 15.6 percent) and is on track to reach the full year target of 15 percent in 2011.

Net financial expense

Net financial expense at $46 million was slightly higher compared with the first half of 2008 ($37 million).

Taxation

The underlying tax rate for the period was 19 percent, in line with the rate for the full year 2008. A similar rate is expected for the full year 2009. The expected tax rate over the medium term is in the low to mid-twenties.

Cash flow

Free cash flow was $79 million (2008: $240 million). Fixed capital expenditure of $283 million (2008: $168 million) reflected spending under the capacity expansion program for key active ingredients announced in 2008. Average trade working capital as a percentage of sales was 40 percent (2008: 36 percent) as inventories increased compared with an exceptionally low level in 2008. Ongoing strong receivables management and business seasonality are expected to lead to significant free cash flow in the second half.

Cash return to shareholders

A dividend of CHF 6.00 per share (2008: CHF 4.80) was paid in the second quarter, representing a total payout of $491 million.

Outlook

Mike Mack, Chief Executive Officer, said:

"I am pleased with the resilience of the company's first half performance in the face of currency and raw material headwinds and the second quarter impact of a late spring. We maintained our focus on rigorous risk management throughout the period in order to preserve balance sheet quality. For the full year, achieving earnings growth has become more challenging. However, in the second half currency and raw material trends are more favorable and, assuming current supportive conditions in Latin America continue, we are targeting full year earnings per share** close to the record level achieved in 2008.

"We look ahead with confidence. The fundamental drivers for our industry are unchanged, and we expect the need for increased global food production to result in ongoing demand growth, which our broad portfolio is uniquely placed to capture."

    Crop Protection

    For a definition of constant exchange rates, see Appendix A.

                              1st Half      Growth      2nd Quarter    Growth
                             -----------------------   -----------------------
    Product line             2009  2008  Actual  CER   2009  2008  Actual  CER
    ------------               $m    $m       %    %     $m    $m       %    %
                               --    --      --   --     --    --      --   --
    Selective Herbicides    1,615 1,679     - 4   +8    814    904   - 10   +1
    Non-selective
     Herbicides               691   739     - 6   +3    362    434   - 17  - 9
    Fungicides              1,356 1,649    - 18  - 7    634    873   - 27 - 18
    Insecticides              673   779    - 14  - 3    318    375   - 15  - 6
    Seed Care                 392   388      +1  +10    135    135      -  +10
    Professional Products     225   289    - 22 - 18    115    143   - 20 - 16
    Others                     48    31     +53  +68     37     16   +123 +147
    ------                     --    --     ---  ---     --     --   ---- ----
    Total                   5,000 5,554    - 10   +1  2,415  2,880    -16   -7

Selective Herbicides: major brands AXIAL((R)), CALLISTO((R)) family, DUAL((R))/BICEP((R)) MAGNUM, FUSILADE((R))MAX, TOPIK((R))

Sales were up on broad-based price increases reflecting Syngenta's leading global position in selective herbicides. Growth was led by AXIAL((R)) and TOPIK((R)) with both products performing strongly on cereals in North America. In the USA, increased soybean acreage and weed resistance resulted in renewed demand for soybean herbicides.

Non-selective Herbicides: major brands GRAMOXONE((R)), TOUCHDOWN((R))

Higher non-selective herbicide sales reflected continuing demand growth in NAFTA. Growth was led by TOUCHDOWN((R)), with volume increases due to increasing glyphosate-tolerant acres and minimum tillage practices accompanied by further price realization in the USA and Canada. In its second year, HALEX((R)) demonstrated continued success in the USA as a differentiator in the TOUCHDOWN((R)) range. Sales of REGLONE((R) )also increased in Canada and Western Europe.

Fungicides: major brands ALTO((R)), AMISTAR((R)), BRAVO((R)), REVUS((R)), RIDOMIL GOLD((R)), SCORE((R)), TILT((R)), UNIX((R))

Fungicide sales were lower as a result of challenging market conditions including drought in Latin America and reduced wheat acreage in Europe and the USA. Sales were further constrained by emerging market risk management and by supply shortages in advance of new capacity coming on-stream. Price increases across the fungicide portfolio partially offset volume declines and illustrated the yield-enhancing value of the company's technology. REVUS((R)) sales increased significantly with successful launches in new markets, notably France and Italy.

Insecticides: major brands ACTARA((R)), DURIVO((R)), FORCE((R)), KARATE((R)), PROCLAIM((R)), VERTIMEC((R))

Reduced pest pressure in Latin America and Western Europe together with risk management measures in emerging markets resulted in lower insecticide sales. KARATE((R)) sales declined as a result of dry weather in Northern Europe and Latin America. Sales of FORCE((R)) increased as sales declines in the USA were more than offset by increasing corn rootworm pressure in Western Europe. In Asia Pacific, sales of insecticides increased significantly supported by the successful roll-out of DURIVO((R)).

Seed Care: major brands AVICTA((R)), CRUISER((R)), DIVIDEND((R)), MAXIM((R))

Sales continued to increase globally. CRUISER((R) )sales increased significantly with double-digit growth in all regions. In NAFTA, sales increased on higher soybean acres, the launch of CRUISER MAXX((R) )on soybean in Canada and increased sales to Pioneer Hi-Bred. In Europe, CRUISER((R)) benefited from a registration in France in late 2008.

Professional Products: major brands FAFARD((R)), HERITAGE((R)), ICON((R))

The economic environment had an adverse impact on sales of the non-agricultural businesses. A reduction in consumer spending and a shift to just-in-time purchasing by retailers resulted in lower sales in the Lawn & Garden and home care markets. FAFARD((R) )sales were further affected by increased risk management activities.

                            1st Half       Growth      2nd Quarter    Growth
                           ------------------------  -------------------------
    Crop Protection        2009   2008  Actual  CER   2009   2008  Actual  CER
     by region               $m     $m       %    %     $m     $m       %    %
    ----------               --     --      --   --     --     --      --   --
    Europe, Africa, Mid.
     East                 1,810  2,250    - 20  - 3    823  1,134    - 27 - 12
    NAFTA                 1,882  1,850      +2   +9    989  1,060     - 7  - 1
    Latin America           550    698    - 21 - 21    262    318    - 18 - 18
    Asia Pacific            758    756       -  +12    341    368     - 7   +2
    ------------            ---    ---     ---  ---    ---    ---     ---   --
    Total                 5,000  5,554    - 10   +1  2,415  2,880    - 16  - 7

Europe, Africa and Middle East sales were slightly lower reflecting risk management and reduced grower liquidity in Eastern Europe. In Western Europe sales were unchanged despite unfavorable weather in the second quarter. In France, sales increased significantly led by CRUISER((R)).

In NAFTA, sales increased owing to our leading market position which supported broad-based price increases across the portfolio. Significant growth was recorded in Canada and Mexico due to portfolio expansion as well as the strong performance of established brands. In the USA, price increases more than offset volume declines attributable to delayed corn plantings.

Latin America sales were lower in a challenging market environment reinforcing the importance of effective risk management. Drought in Argentina and southern Brazil, as well as lower Brazilian corn acreage in the smaller second season, resulted in reduced applications.

In Asia Pacific, growth was broad-based as increases were recorded across the region and notably in South Korea and Vietnam. Adequate access to liquidity enabled growers to continue investing in technology. Growth in the region was supplemented by new product launches including the successful expansion of DURIVO((R)).

    Seeds
    For a definition of constant exchange rates, see Appendix A.

                            1st Half    Growth     2nd Quarter   Growth
                           ---------------------   ----------------------
    Product line           2009  2008 Actual CER   2009  2008 Actual  CER
    ------------             $m    $m      %    %    $m    $m      %    %
                             --    --     --   --    --    --     --   --
    Corn & Soybean          843    814    +4  +10   213   194    +10  +19
    Diverse Field Crops     304    353  - 14   +7   155   151     +2  +25
    Vegetables & Flowers    529    572   - 8   +2   254   267    - 5   +4
    --------------------    ---    ---   ---   --   ---   ---    ---   --
    Total                 1,676  1,739   - 4   +7   622   612     +2  +14

Corn & Soybean: major brands AGRISURE((R)),( )GARST((R)), GOLDEN HARVEST((R)), NK((R))

Sales increased in all regions with the exception of Latin America, where lower corn acreage and a delayed season in Argentina reduced sales. In NAFTA and Europe, sales were higher due to significant price increases demonstrating ongoing strengthening of the technology offer. Triple stack corn under the AGRISURE((R)) 3000 GT brand grew significantly as a proportion of the US corn portfolio. In Asia Pacific, corn sales showed strong growth, notably in India and ASEAN countries.

Diverse Field Crops: major brands NK((R) )oilseeds, HILLESHOG((R)) sugar beet

Diverse Field Crops showed solid growth across the business, driven primarily by higher pricing. In Eastern Europe, a slow start to the selling season due to credit conditions was more than offset by strong second quarter growth. In the USA, sales of glyphosate-tolerant sugar beet increased further, building on the successful 2008 launch.

Vegetables & Flowers: major brands, DULCINEA((R)), ROGERS((R)), S&G((R)), Zeraim Gedera; Fischer, Goldfisch, Goldsmith Seeds, S&G((R)), Yoder

Sales growth in Vegetables reflected continuing demand for high quality vegetables, with higher prices and strong volume growth in the emerging markets of Latin America and Asia Pacific. In Flowers, sales growth was due to the acquisition of Goldsmith and Yoder in the fourth quarter of 2008. Excluding the impact of the acquisitions, sales in Flowers declined as a result of reduced consumer spending.

                            1st Half     Growth     2nd Quarter   Growth
                           ----------------------   ----------------------
    Seeds by region        2009   2008 Actual CER   2009  2008 Actual  CER
    ---------------          $m     $m     %    %     $m    $m      %    %
                             --     --    --   --     --    --     --   --
    Europe, Africa, Mid.
     East                   659    811  - 19   +1    251   286   - 12  +10
    NAFTA                   880    773   +14  +15    300   243    +23  +24
    Latin America            41     66  - 37 - 37     14    33   - 57 - 57
    Asia Pacific             96     89    +8  +26     57    50    +13  +30
    ------------             --     --    --  ---     --    --    ---  ---
    Total                 1,676  1,739   - 4   +7    622   612     +2  +14


    Announcements and Meetings

    Third quarter trading statement 2009        23 October 2009
    Announcement of 2009 Full Year Results      5 February 2010
    First quarter trading statement 2010          15 April 2010
    AGM                                           20 April 2010

Syngenta is one of the world's leading companies with more than 24,000 employees in over 90 countries dedicated to our purpose: Bringing plant potential to life. Through world-class science, global reach and commitment to our customers we help to increase crop productivity, protect the environment and improve health and quality of life. For more information about us please go to www.syngenta.com.

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This document contains forward-looking statements, which can be identified by terminology such as 'expect', 'would', 'will', 'potential', 'plans', 'prospects', 'estimated', 'aiming', 'on track' and similar expressions. Such statements may be subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results to differ materially from these statements. We refer you to Syngenta's publicly available filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for information about these and other risks and uncertainties. Syngenta assumes no obligation to update forward-looking statements to reflect actual results, changed assumptions or other factors. This document does not constitute, or form part of, any offer or invitation to sell or issue, or any solicitation of any offer, to purchase or subscribe for any ordinary shares in Syngenta AG, or Syngenta ADSs, nor shall it form the basis of, or be relied on in connection with, any contract therefore.

    (1) Growth at constant exchange rates, see Appendix A.
    (2) EPS on a fully-diluted basis, excluding restructuring and impairment.
    (3) Net income to shareholders of Syngenta AG.
    * Crop Protection sales include $26 million of inter-segment sales.
    ** Fully diluted, excluding restructuring and impairment
    Syngenta International AG

    Media Office
    CH-4002 Basel
    Switzerland
    Tel: +41 61 323 23 23
    Fax: +41 61 323 24 24

    www.syngenta.com


    Media contacts:

    Medard Schoenmaeckers
    Switzerland  +41 61 323 2323


    Analyst/Investor contacts:

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    USA           +1 202 737 6521

    John Hudson
    Switzerland   +41 61 323 6793
    USA           +1 202 737 6520

SOURCE Syngenta International AG



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