10 March 2022
Resilient operational and financial performance despite ongoing challenges from COVID-19.
London – 10 March 2022 – 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 2021.
Financial Highlights (€m)
|EBITDA margin %||58.2%||64.0%|
|Income from operating activities (pre-exceptional items)||635.8||774.4|
|Exceptional items (pre-tax)(ii)||-||(25.6)|
|Income from operating activities (post-exceptional items)||635.8||748.8|
|Net income (pre-exceptional items)||364.5||530.9|
|Exceptional items (post-tax)(ii)||-||(25.6)|
|Net income (post-exceptional items)||364.5||505.3|
|Earnings per share (post-exceptional items)||2.2||3.0|
|Cash generated from operating activities||1,027.6||1,171.4|
(i) EBITDA is defined as 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 SWU assets and net costs of nuclear provisions. Further details on the reconciliation of income from operating activities to EBITDA Is provided on page 10.
(ii) No exceptional items were reported in 2021 (2020: charges of €25.6 million). The exceptional charge in 2020 arose due to lower discount rates applied to nuclear provisions in the US.
(iii) Capital expenditure includes net cash flows from investing activities (excluding interest received, payments on maturing swaps and short-term deposits) of €131.0 million and capital accruals (included in working capital payables) of €(1.2) million.
Boris Schucht, Chief Executive of Urenco Group, commenting on the full year results, said:
“2021 was a positive year for Urenco. We worked hard to increase key stakeholder understanding of the nuclear industry and Urenco’s role in achieving net zero carbon emissions. We continued to progress our strategy, maintaining strong financial and operational performance, and delivered for our customers. I am very grateful for the determination and hard work of our employees and the strength of our business partnerships in achieving this, especially during a time of challenge due to COVID-19. Once again we maintained continuous operations and service to our customers.
Revenue was down at €1,669.3 million (2020: €1,700.1 million), due to one-off income received in 2020 of €44.5 million from the settlement of claims filed by Urenco relating to the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of a US customer, partially offset by an increase in short term spot SWU sales delivered in 2021. EBITDA and net income were down at €971.1 million and €364.5 million respectively (2020: €1,088.1 million; €505.3 million), as expected, due to lower revenues and an increase in operating costs. Net income has been further adversely affected by a non-cash deferred tax charge of €55.7 million due to a future increase in the UK corporate tax rate, which was enacted in 2021. Cash generated from operating activities remained strong at €1,027.6 million (2020: €1,171.4 million), which enabled a significant reduction in net debt to €11.5 million (2020: €455.7 million).
Through our strategy, Urenco is committed to maintaining our position as a trusted global industry leader, making a valuable contribution to a sustainable net zero carbon future as a reliable nuclear fuel supplier. In 2021 we spent a significant amount of time supporting policy makers in this critical area to understand what role nuclear can play in the energy transition. This included commissioning an independent study from Aurora Energy Research to investigate and establish the benefits of deploying both nuclear and renewables in hydrogen production and presenting at the COP26 climate change conference. We also committed to achieving net zero emissions within our own operations in advance of 2040 as a member of the Climate Pledge. In addition, we signed a new sustainability-linked bank facility, including commitments on carbon reduction, water management and safety.
Medicine is another area where our services provide huge social value. Last year we were very proud to officially open a new cascade of centrifuges at our Urenco Stable Isotopes facility in the Netherlands to meet, in particular, the growing demand for medical products, for example Xenon 129, which is used in MRI imaging to detect lung diseases.
At Urenco, we firmly believe that nuclear power has a key role, alongside renewables, in the clean energy transition through making a valuable contribution to reliable, low carbon electricity generation and the future production of hydrogen. In 2022 we look forward to constructive conversations and strong collaboration across industry and government on this essential work.”
Revenue for the year ended 31 December 2021 was €1,669.3 million, a decrease of €30.8 million (1.8%) on the €1,700.1 million in 2020. SWU revenues were higher in 2021 by €16.4 million and uranium related sales were lower by €2.2 million. For SWU revenues, both volumes and average unit revenues were higher than the previous year. Uranium related sales experienced lower volumes, but higher realised unit prices. Other revenues decreased by €45.0 million year on year, primarily driven by one off payments of €44.5 million received in 2020 from the settlement of claims filed by Urenco relating to the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of a US customer.
EBITDA for 2021 was €971.1 million, a decrease of €117.0 million (10.8%) from €1,088.1 million in 2020. The decrease in EBITDA is principally due to lower revenue, an increase in unit cost of sales expensed due to changes in inventory costs associated with finished goods and SWU, and an increase in other operating and administrative expenses. The EBITDA margin for 2021 was 58.2%, compared to 64.0% in 2020.
The costs associated with changes to inventories of finished goods and SWU assets for 2021 were €89.0 million, an increase of €50.3 million from €38.7 million in 2020. These costs have increased due to underlying increases in both direct costs of production and in inventory purchase costs.
The net costs of nuclear provisions (before exceptional items of €25.6 million in 2020) were €144.4 million in 2021, compared to €138.2 million in 2020, an increase of €6.2 million. Other operating and administrative expenses were higher than the prior year at €471.7 million in 2021, compared to €434.0 million in 2020, an increase of €37.7 million. Other operating costs were higher, reflecting higher costs for transport, business rates, consultants, and other third party services.
The net costs for tails provisions in 2021 were €30.6 million higher than those for 2020 (pre-exceptional). Higher costs of tails provisions created arose due to more tails being generated during 2021 and an uplift in the unit cost estimates for those tails produced. A change in the assumed discount rate in 2020 resulted in an increase in costs, which was not repeated in 2021. The lower release from tails provisions relates to the optimisation of operations and the impact of the reduction in higher assay tails associated with enrichment services contracts.
The net costs for decommissioning provisions decreased by €25.4 million in 2021, with increased cost estimates associated with the triennial review of decommissioning, being less significant in size than the impact of the 2020 uplift in discount rates. The net costs for other nuclear provisions in 2021 increased by €1.0 million as a result of changes to the forecasts for future re-enrichment of low assay feed, from net gains of €20.7 million in 2020 to net gains of €19.7 million in 2021.
No exceptional items were reported in 2021 (2020: charges of €25.6 million).
Net income was €364.5 million in 2021 (2020: €505.3 million post-exceptional items, €530.9 million pre-exceptional items). The decrease in net income reflects the impact of lower EBITDA and higher tax expenses recognised in 2021, resulting in a reduced net income margin of 21.8% compared to 31.2% in the prior year (pre-exceptional items).
Net finance costs for 2021 were lower at €64.3 million, compared to €82.4 million for 2020, reflecting the lower levels of net debt in 2021, foreign exchange movements on financing activities and lower costs associated with bond repurchases, partially offset by a reduction in the capitalisation of interest, mainly as a result of lower interest charges on loans and borrowings.
Depreciation and amortisation for 2021 was broadly flat at €331.0 million, compared to €328.6 million for 2020.
In 2021 the Group’s tax expense was €207.0 million (an effective tax rate (ETR) of 36.2%), an increase of €45.9 million from the tax expense of €161.1 million (pre-exceptionals) for 2020 (ETR: 23.3%). Following the May 2021 enacted increase in the UK corporate tax rate to 25.0% from 19.0%, effective 1 April 2023, the Group’s net UK deferred tax liability was revalued and a non-cash tax charge of €55.7 million was recognised. This charge was partially offset by the impact of a reduction in profit before tax.
Cash generated from operating activities was €1,027.6 million (2020: €1,171.4 million). The lower cash flows from operating activities primarily reflect the impact of lower revenues and an unfavourable movement of working capital balances compared to 2020. In the current year, sales deliveries have been relatively closer to the year end when compared to the prior year, resulting in higher trade receivables balances. These trade receivables will be settled in 2022, in accordance with agreed payment terms.
Tax paid in the period was €146.4 million (2020: €36.1 million) due to the timing and phasing of cash payments which can often span multiple years.
Accordingly, net cash flows from operating activities were lower at €881.2 million (2020: €1,135.3 million).
In 2021 the Group invested a total of €129.8 million (2020: €141.1 million), reflecting a lower level of expenditure on both core enrichment assets and the TMF. Expenditure on core enrichment assets is now broadly at a level forecast as part of our strategy to maintain the existing fleet of enrichment assets for the near to medium term. Investment in TMF in 2021 was €25.9 million (2020: €35.5 million, 2019: €43.0 million), reflecting completion of construction in late 2018. The final stage of active commissioning is well underway, with uranium oxide production having commenced in 2021.
In February 2021 the Group repaid €534.4 million of the February 2021 Eurobond at maturity. In October 2021 the Group signed a new sustainability-linked bank facility of €500 million with ten banks which matures in 2026, with two optional extensions of one year each.
Liquidity continues to remain strong as a result of cash flow generation. As at 31 December 2021, the Group had €500 million (2020: €750 million) of undrawn committed bank facilities, as well as cash, cash equivalents and short term deposits of €1,075.8 million (2020: €1,158.8 million). Our funding position remains robust and continues to be underpinned by our established contract order book, which gives high levels of revenue visibility and robust EBITDA margins, resulting in strong cash flow generation. Furthermore, the company has sufficient cash available to meet the payment of a €150.0 million dividend in early 2022 and the maturity of €405 million of Eurobonds later in the year. The Group’s debt is rated by Moody’s (Baa1/Stable) and Standard & Poor’s (BBB+/Stable); these external ratings were unchanged during 2021.
Total provisions as at 31 December 2020 were €2,728.7 million (2020: €2,355.7 million), of which €3.6 million (2020: €5.2 million) was included in current liabilities.
The tails provision increased by €195.4 million (2020: €250.8 million), due to tails generated in the year and increases in the applied tails unit rates. The decommissioning provision increased by €149.3 million due to revised assumptions relating to the decommissioning of plant and machinery of €98.7 million, the installation of additional plant and machinery of €36.1 million and additional cylinder purchases of €14.5 million. The impact of the revised assumptions mainly relates to the triennial review of the core decommissioning strategy which was performed during 2021.
Nuclear liabilities and the associated provisions, together with underlying macroeconomic 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 2021 of €8.7 billion based on €/$ of 1 : 1.14 (31 December 2020: €9.0 billion based on €/$ of 1 : 1.22), providing visibility and financial stability of future revenues.
Through our pivotal role in the nuclear fuel cycle and commitment to reducing our own emissions, Urenco is focused on making a positive contribution to net zero goals. Our core business will remain the provision of enrichment services and fuel cycle products from our four global sites. We will also continue to expand our work in related areas for the civil nuclear industry where we can add real value through our leading skills, experience and technology, such as the development of advanced fuels, responsible nuclear stewardship and increasing our range of stable and medical isotopes.
The principal risks and uncertainties to which Urenco is exposed are broadly in line with those of last year. We are deeply concerned about the current developments in Ukraine and our thoughts are with the people suffering as a result of the conflict. We are in contact with our customer and other stakeholders in Ukraine, offering our support. We continue to monitor and evaluate developments in Ukraine and the region closely, and we are working with government partners and other stakeholders in the UK, US and Europe to assess the potential impact.
We anticipate that COVID-19 will continue to cause some disruption in 2022 and we are well placed to maintain the health and wellbeing of our employees and the integrity of our operations.
The enrichment market is recovering and now approaching a level which allows us to plan for reinvestment in plant capacity and future decommissioning requirements. The value of our contract order book remains strong at €8.7 billion and extends into the 2030s.
In 2022, we will progress our plans to produce next generation fuels for current and advanced technologies, increasing both reactor efficiency and safety. Our roadmap for achieving net zero emissions from our operations will be finalised, covering our operations, bought services and our supply chain. We will also explore proposals to further expand our stable and medical isotopes facility to meet continued growth in this market.
In 2021 Richard Nourse retired from the Board as UK appointed Non-Executive Director and was replaced by Michael Harrison. The Board of Urenco greatly appreciates and thanks Richard for the contribution that he has made to Urenco during a period of significant growth and consolidation of the company’s position in the enrichment market.
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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.