11 March 2021
Solid operational and financial performance despite COVID-19 pandemic, results slightly ahead of expectations
London – 11 March 2021 – Urenco Group (“Urenco” or “the Group”), an international supplier of uranium enrichment services and nuclear fuel cycle products, today announces its results for the full year ended 31 December 2020.
Financial Highlights (€m)
|EBITDA margin %||64.0%||67.6%|
|Income from operating activities (pre-exceptional items)||774.4||850.2|
|Exceptional items (pre-tax) (ii)||(25.6)||(643.0)|
|Income from operating activities (post-exceptional items)||748.8||207.2|
|Net income (pre-exceptional items)||530.9||564.8|
|Exceptional items (post-tax) (ii)||(25.6)||(557.2)|
|Net income (post-exceptional items)||505.3||7.6|
|Earnings per share (post-exceptional items)||3.0||0.1|
|Capital expenditure (iii)||141.1||151.4|
|Cash generated from operating activities||1,171.4||1,094.3|
(i) EBITDA is earnings before exceptional items, interest (including other finance costs), taxation, depreciation and amortisation and joint venture results. Depreciation and amortisation are adjusted to remove elements of such charges included in changes to inventories and net costs of nuclear provisions. Further details on the calculation of EBITDA are set out in note 4 to the Group’s Consolidated Financial Statements contained in the 2020 Annual Report and Accounts.
(ii) Exceptional items in 2020 comprise an increase in nuclear provisions of €25.6 million due to lower discount rates in the US. In 2019 this comprised impairment on USA operations (€500.0 million pre-tax, €446.0 million post-tax) and increase of nuclear provisions due to lower discount rates in Europe (€143.0 million pre-tax, €111.2 million post-tax).
(iii) Capital expenditure includes net cash flows from investing activities (excluding interest received) and capital accruals (included in working capital payables).
Boris Schucht, Chief Executive of Urenco Group, commenting on the full year results, said:
“2020 has been a year in which Urenco has shown great strength and determination. We delivered for our customers and maintained our high operational and financial performance, while taking no COVID- 19 assistance from Government support schemes. Most importantly, we safeguarded the health and wellbeing of our employees, communities and key stakeholders through the COVID-19 preventative measures which we implemented. I would like to thank everyone at Urenco, who rapidly adapted to new ways of working, and to our customers, suppliers and other partner organisations who worked flexibly with us through this challenging year.
During 2020 we put in place new agreements with existing customers and extended our order book past 2030, while working closely with them to provide support and flexibility. There was no interruption to our operations from COVID-19, which remained safe and stable, and we are proud to have maintained our 100% record of delivering to our customers on time.
This contributed to a healthy financial performance, slightly ahead of our expectations. Revenue, EBITDA and net income were down on 2019, in particular due to reduced SWU volumes. Net financial debt continued to reduce, which was €455.7 million at the end of 2020 (2019: €928.1 million). We have a strong balance sheet, which can help protect Urenco from any potential longer-term adverse consequences of COVID-19 and the ongoing challenges of the enrichment market.
We have updated our strategy to reflect our view of the future and what we need to achieve as a business, to continue to offer high-quality products and services for our customers and ensure the sustainability of our part of the nuclear fuel cycle. We are also investing in our people as the foundation of our strategy, creating a winning team through our culture programme.
On 4 March 2020, we marked the 50th anniversary of our organisation’s founding treaty – The Treaty of Almelo – through celebrations with employees and donations to a variety of local charities near to each of our sites. We are looking forward to the next 50 years. We believe that nuclear power can and should play an important role in the clean energy transition. Achieving a sustainable energy system and meeting ambitious climate targets will be much harder without existing nuclear power and investment in new nuclear. We look forward to making a valuable contribution to this through strong collaborations with industry and government partners.”
Revenue for the year ended 31 December 2020 was €1,700.1 million, a decrease of 5.8% on the €1,804.5 million in 2019. SWU revenues were lower in 2020 by €226.6 million and uranium related sales were higher by €65.7 million. For SWU revenues, both volumes and average unit revenues were lower than the previous year. Uranium related sales experienced higher volumes and higher realised unit prices. Other revenues increased by €56.5 million compared to 2019, primarily as a result of receipts associated with the settlement of claims filed by Urenco relating to the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of a US customer and uranium conversion services.
EBITDA for 2020 was €1,088.1 million, a decrease of €131.5 million (10.8%) from €1,219.6 million in 2019, corresponding to an EBITDA margin of 64.0% for 2020 (2019: 67.6%).
The reduction in EBITDA for 2020 of €131.5 million compared to 2019 mainly reflects the lower revenue of €104.4 million and the different mix in customer deliveries between the two years satisfied from in-year production and inventories (2020: €(38.7) million, 2019: €(5.5) million).
The net costs of nuclear provisions (before exceptional items of €25.6 million (2019: €143.0 million)) were €138.2 million in 2020 compared to €154.7 million in 2019, a decrease of €16.5 million. The pre-exceptional net costs for tails provisions items in 2020 were €3.5 million lower than those for 2019. The lower costs of tails provisions created arose mainly due to fewer tails being generated during 2020 and large uplifts in the unit cost estimates of tails in 2019, being offset by a change in discount rates in 2020 not treated as exceptional. The pre-exceptional net costs for decommissioning provisions in 2020 increased by €48.4 million primarily due to a change in discount rates and an update to some cost estimates, partly offset by a slightly higher release of provisions. The net costs for other nuclear provisions in 2020 decreased by €61.4 million primarily as a result of changes to the forecasts for future re-enrichment of low assay feed.
Other operating and administrative expenses (1) were lower than the prior year at €434.0 million in 2020 compared to €443.3 million in 2019, a decrease of €9.3 million.
Exceptional items totalling €25.6 million on a pre-tax basis (€25.6 million post-tax) were reported in 2020 (2019: €643.0 million). The total net income tax credit associated with the exceptional items was €nil (2019: €85.8 million).
The exceptional items recognised in 2020 are presented within net costs of nuclear provisions. In 2019 €143.0 million was presented within net costs of nuclear provisions and €500.0 million was recognised as Impairment of USA Operations.
The exceptional charge in 2020 arose due to the increase in the value of nuclear provisions held by the US enrichment businesses following a revision to the discount rates applied to the provisions due to continued downward pressure on real interest rates in the US. Last year the exceptional charge presented within net costs of nuclear provisions arose due to the increase in the value of nuclear provisions held by the European enrichment business. This year saw a further adjustment to the nuclear provisions held by the European enrichment business in the ordinary course of business. Of the €25.6 million (2019: €143.0 million), €25.6 million (2019: €111.3 million) relates to tails provisions and €0.0 million (2019: €31.7 million) relates to decommissioning provisions.
Depreciation and amortisation for 2020 was €328.6 million, compared to €356.2 million for 2019, which mainly reflects the impairment of the carrying value of the US Operations in 2019.
Income from operating activities post-exceptional items was €748.8 million (2019: €207.2 million) and Income from operating activities pre-exceptional items was €774.4 million (2019 €850.2 million).
Net finance costs for 2020 were €82.4 million, compared to €107.1 million for 2019, reflecting the lower levels of net debt in 2020, foreign exchange movements on financing activities and lower costs associated with bond repurchases.
In 2020 the pre-exceptional tax expense was €161.1 million (an effective tax rate (ETR) of 23.3%), a decrease of €17.2 million over the tax expense of €178.3 million for 2019 (ETR: 24.0%). The decrease in the ETR arose primarily from the impact of the agreement of an Advanced Pricing
Agreement (APA) for the period 2013–2020 with the UK, Dutch and German tax authorities covering the allocation of certain revenue and costs between the three jurisdictions and a partial release of valuation allowance held against US deferred tax assets, partially offset by the revaluation of UK and Dutch net deferred tax liabilities for increases in the respective mainstream tax rates.
There is no difference in the post-exceptional and pre-exceptional tax expense of €161.1 million, as there is no net tax impact associated with exceptional items in 2020.
Net income after exceptional items was €505.3 million in 2020 (2019: €7.6 million).
Net income before exceptional items was €530.9 million in 2020, a decrease of €33.9 million (6.0%) compared to the 2019 net income before exceptional items of €564.8 million. The net income margin before exceptional items for 2020 was 31.2% compared to 31.3% for 2019.
Operating cash flow before movements in working capital was €1,161.1 million (2019: €1,288.3 million) and cash generated from operating activities was €1,171.4 million (2019: €1,094.3 million). The higher cash flows from operating activities primarily result from favourable movements in working capital compared to 2019.
Tax paid in the period was €36.1 million (2019: €141.5 million) due to the timing and phasing of cash payments which can often span multiple years. In 2020 Group capital expenditure (2) was €141.1 million (2019: €151.4 million), reflecting a lower level of expenditure on both core enrichment assets and the Tails Management Facility (TMF). Expenditure on core enrichment assets is now broadly at a level forecast as part of our strategy and appropriate to maintain the existing fleet of enrichment assets for the near to mid-term. Investment in TMF in 2020 was €35.5 million (2019: €43.0 million, 2018: €76.0 million) reflecting completion of construction in late 2018. The final stage of active commissioning is well underway and uranium oxide production will start in the first half of 2021.
Net cash outflow from financing activities was €725.0 million (2019: €1,101.8 million) which includes net placements of €64.7 million in short term deposits (2019: €464.1 million). In July 2020 the Group repurchased and cancelled €95.0 million of the August 2022 Eurobonds for a price of €98.2 million (103.35%), for a total amount of €100.1 million, which included €1.9 million of accrued interest on these Eurobonds. In January 2019 the Group repurchased and cancelled €215.6 million of the February 2021 Eurobonds for a price of €225.5 million (104.6%), for a total amount of €230.5 million, which included €5.0 million of accrued interest on these Eurobonds. In March 2020, €300.0 million in dividends for the year ended 31 December 2019 were paid to shareholders (2019: €300.0 million). In December 2020, an interim-dividend for the year ended 31 December 2020 of €150.0 million (2019: nil) was paid.
As at 31 December 2020, the Group held short-term bank deposits and cash and cash equivalents of €1,158.8 million (31 December 2019: €787.3 million). Net debt decreased to €455.7 million (2019: €928.1 million) including lease liabilities of €19.8m (2019: €22.0 million). The Group’s debt is rated by Moody’s (Baa1/Stable) and Standard & Poor’s (BBB+/Stable); these external ratings were unchanged during 2020.
Total provisions as at 31 December 2020 were €2,355.7 million (2019: €2,187.0 million) of which €5.2 million (2019: €9.2 million) was included in current liabilities. In 2020, additional provisions and the unwinding of discounts were €538.6 million (including the impact of the change in discount rates), while utilisation and release of provisions (including exchange differences) were €369.9 million. Nuclear liabilities and the associated provisions, together with underlying macro-economic assumptions and the required funding capability, are kept under constant review by Urenco.
Our order book extends to the 2030s with a value as at 31 December 2020 of €9.0 billion based on €/$ of 1 : 1.22 (31 December 2019: approximately €10.6 billion based on €/$ of 1 : 1.12), providing visibility and financial stability of future revenues.
Our core business continues to be the provision of uranium enrichment services. Through operating in this pivotal area of the nuclear fuel supply chain, we are facilitating low carbon electricity generation for consumers and businesses around the world and the achievement of crucial climate change goals.
This is complemented by using our competencies and leading technology to increase our offering in related areas where we can create real value, such as the fuelling of new reactors, waste treatment and decommissioning and stable and medical isotopes, which will continue to grow.
The principal risks and uncertainties to which Urenco is exposed are broadly in line with those of last year.
The pandemic will remain a challenge for a large part of 2021. We will ensure our operations and the health and safety of our employees are maintained to the highest possible level.
While market prices need to increase in the long run, in 2020, we increasingly saw long dated business being contracted at price levels which will enable us to plan for reinvestment in our plants. Our contract order book has been extended beyond the 2030s and will extend further.
Our new stable and medical isotopes cascades will start operations in 2021 and active commissioning of our Tails Management Facility will progress, with commercial production expected to start in first half of this year.
The Board has agreed to extend the term of office of our Chairman, Stephen Billingham, until the end of 2022.
(1) Other operating and administrative expenses are defined as expenses comprising raw costs of materials and consumables used, employee costs, restructuring charges and other expenses, but excluding the net costs of nuclear provisions. In 2020 this definition has changed to exclude the adjustments for depreciation. The comparative amount for 2019 has been restated from €424.7 million to €443.3 million.
(2) Capital expenditure includes net cash flows from investing activities (excluding interest received) of €146.8 million and capital accruals (included in working capital payables) of €(5.7) million.
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Urenco is an international supplier of enrichment services and fuel cycle products with sustainability at the core of its business. Operating in a pivotal area of the nuclear fuel supply chain for 50 years, Urenco facilitates zero carbon electricity generation for consumers around the world.
With its head office near London, UK, Urenco’s global presence ensures diversity and security of supply for customers through enrichment facilities in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA. Using centrifuge technology designed and developed by Urenco, and through the expertise of our people, the Urenco Group provides safe, cost effective and reliable services; operating within a framework of high environmental, social and governance standards, complementing international safeguards.
Urenco is committed to continued investment in the responsible management of nuclear materials; innovation activities with clear sustainability benefits, such as nuclear medicine, industrial efficiency and research; and nurturing the next generation of scientists and engineers.