The Bayer Group experienced a slow start to 2023 as expected. ″Sales were on a par with the exceptionally strong prior-year quarter,″ CEO Werner Baumann said on Thursday when presenting the Quarterly Statement for the first quarter. The normalization in the glyphosate business has accelerated, although this effect was largely offset by growth in the other parts of the Crop Science business, he explained. Group earnings were mainly weighed down by the glyphosate business and inflation, and were also impacted by R&D investment at Pharmaceuticals, which remained high.
Baumann confirmed the Group outlook for full-year 2023 based on the average monthly exchange rates from 2022. However, for the remainder of the year Bayer sees potential risks mainly arising from the significantly reduced market price expectations for glyphosate-based products, he said. ″We continue to expect performance to improve in our other businesses in the second half of the year,″ Baumann noted. ″Overall, we expect target attainment to come in at the lower end of our guidance.″
Group sales came in at 14.389 billion euros in the first quarter of 2023, down 1.1 percent on a currency- and portfolio-adjusted basis (Fx & portfolio adj.). Sales benefited from a positive currency effect of 102 million euros (Q1 2022: 529 million euros). EBITDA before special items declined by 14.9 percent to 4.471 billion euros. EBIT fell by 29.4 percent to 2.973 billion euros after net special charges of 431 million euros (Q1 2022: net special gains of 40 million euros). The special charges primarily comprised an impairment loss due to significantly reduced market price expectations for glyphosate. Net income decreased by 33.8 percent to 2.178 billion euros, while core earnings per share were down 16.4 percent at 2.95 euros.
Free cash flow came in at minus 4.102 billion euros (Q1 2022: minus 1.187 billion euros). This figure included higher payments to resolve proceedings in the litigations surrounding glyphosate, dicamba, Essure™ and, in particular, PCBs that had already been communicated and were effected in the first quarter. The net payout amounted to 1.536 billion euros (Q1 2022: 476 million euros) and was covered by provisions. As a result, net financial debt as of March 31, 2023, came in at 36.077 billion euros, up 13.4 percent from year-end 2022.
Crop Science grows outside the glyphosate business
In the agricultural business (Crop Science), sales declined by 1.1 percent (Fx & portfolio adj.) to 8.351 billion euros. Excluding the glyphosate business, Crop Science sales were up around 8 percent (Fx & portfolio adj.). The division recorded double-digit percentage gains in the Europe/Middle East/Africa and Asia/Pacific regions, but saw sales fall in Latin and North America, mainly due to lower volumes.
Sales at Corn Seed & Traits rose substantially, primarily driven by higher prices in the North America and Europe/Middle East/Africa regions.
Herbicides business saw a significant decline in sales due to lower volumes and prices for glyphosate-based products. However, other herbicide products registered higher sales due to increased prices.
Sales at Fungicides came in at the prior-year level, with higher prices in all regions offsetting lower volumes in Latin and North America in particular.
Soybean Seed & Traits business posted a slight increase in sales against the prior-year period, predominantly due to higher volumes in Latin America.
Insecticides registered significant price and volume increases in Europe/Middle East/Africa thanks to Movento™ product and in Latin America due to Curbix™ product. By contrast, volumes declined in North America.
Sales at Cotton Seed came in slightly below the prior-year level, mainly due to lower volumes in Latin America.
Business at Vegetable Seeds expanded mainly in Europe/Middle East/Africa thanks to higher prices and volumes.
Sales in the reporting unit ″Other″ were up slightly, with SeedGrowth business mainly benefitting from higher volumes. The remaining Environmental Science business, which encompasses Industrial Turf & Ornamental (IT&O) and Lawn & Garden, saw sales decline due to lower volumes and prices at the IT&O unit.
EBITDA before special items at Crop Science decreased by 11.0 percent to €3,267 million in the first quarter of 2023 (Q1 2022: €3,669 million), mainly due to the fall in sales in Latin and North America. Earnings were also diminished by an increase in costs, particularly in the cost of goods sold, which was mainly due to high inflation. There was a positive currency effect of €54 million (Q1 2022: €98 million). The EBITDA margin before special items declined by 4.3 percentage points to 39.1 percent.
EBIT came in at €2,319 million (Q1 2022: €3,028 million) after special charges of €296 million (Q1 2022: special gains of €45 million). The special charges primarily comprised an impairment loss within the cashgenerating unit glyphosate that was mainly due to significantly reduced market price expectations for glyphosate.