2019 Annual Integrated Report

Solvay measures its financial performance using alternative performance metrics, which can be found below. Solvay believes that these measurements are useful for analyzing and explaining changes and trends in its historical results of operations, as they allow performance to be compared on a consistent basis. For comparability purposes the 2018 reference figures are on a pro forma basis, as if IFRS 16 had been implemented in 2018. The balance sheet evolution is compared with January 1, 2019, which includes the IFRS 16 impact versus December 31, 2018.

  • Underlying tax rate = Income taxes / (Result before taxes – Earnings from associates & joint ventures – interests & realized foreign exchange results on RusVinyl joint venture) – all determined on an Underlying basis. The adjustment of the denominator regarding associates and joint ventures is made as these contributions are already net of income taxes. This provides an indication of the tax rate across the Group.
  • Research & innovation measures the total cash effort in research and innovation, regardless of whether the costs were expensed or capitalized. It consists of research & development costs from the income statement before netting of related subsidies and royalties, and where depreciation and amortization are replaced by related capital expenditure. 
  • Research & innovation intensity is the ratio of research & innovation to net sales.
  • Free cash flow is calculated as cash flows from operating activities (excluding cash flows linked to acquisitions or disposals of subsidiaries and cash outflows of Additional Voluntary  Contributions related to pension plans as they are of deleveraging nature as reimbursement of debt), cash flows from investing activities (excluding cash flows from or related to acquisitions and disposals of subsidiaries and other investments, and excluding loans to associates and non-consolidated investments, as well as related tax elements and recognition of factored receivables) and payment of lease liabilities and increase/decrease of borrowings related to environmental remediation. Prior to the adoption of IFRS 16, operating lease payments were included in the free cash flow. Following the application of IFRS 16, because leases are generally considered to be operating in nature, the free cash flow incorporates the payment of the lease liability (excluding the interest expense). Not including this item in the free cash flow would result in a significant improvement of the free cash flow compared to prior periods, whereas the operations themselves have not been affected by the implementation of IFRS 16.
  • Free cash flow to Solvay shareholders: Free cash flow after payment of net interests, coupons of perpetual hybrid bonds and dividends to non-controlling interests. This represents the cash flow available to Solvay shareholders, to pay their dividend and/or to reduce the net financial debt.
  • Free cash flow conversion: Calculated as the ratio between the free cash flow to Solvay shareholders (before netting of dividends paid to non-controlling interest) and underlying EBITDA.
  • Capital expenditure (capex): Cash paid for the acquisition of tangible and intangible assets presented in cash flows from investing activities, and cash paid on the lease liabilities (excluding interests paid), presented in cash flows from financing activities. This indicator is used to manage capital employed in the Group.
  • Cash conversion: is a ratio used to measure the conversion of EBITDA into cash. It is defined as (Underlying EBITDA + Capex from continuing operations) / Underlying EBITDA.
  • Net working capital includes inventories, trade receivables and other current receivables, netted with trade payables and other current liabilities.
  • Net financial debt: Non-current financial debt + current financial debt – cash & cash equivalents – other financial instruments. Underlying net debt reclassifies as debt 100% of the hybrid perpetual bonds, considered as equity under IFRS. It is a key measure of the strength of the Group’s financial position and is widely used by credit rating agencies.
  • Underlying leverage ratio: Underlying net debt / Adjusted underlying EBITDA of last 12 months.
  • ROCE: Return on Capital employed, calculated as the ratio between underlying EBIT (before adjustment for the amortization of PPA) and capital employed. Capital employed consists of net working capital, tangible and intangible assets, goodwill, rights-of-use assets, investments in associates & joint ventures and other investments, and is taken as the average of the situation at the end of the last 4 quarters.
  • Additional Voluntary Contribution related to employee benefits plans: contributions to plan assets in excess of Mandatory Contributions to employee benefits plans. These payments are discretionary and are driven by the objective of value creation.
  • Mandatory contribution to employees benefits plan: for funded plans, contributions to plan assets corresponding to amounts required to be paid during the respective period, in accordance with agreements with trustees or regulation, as well as, for unfunded plans, benefits paid to beneficiairies.
  • CFROI: Cash Flow Return On Investment measures the cash returns of Solvay’s business activities. Movements in CFROI levels are relevant indicators for showing whether economic value is being added, though it is accepted that this measure cannot be benchmarked or compared with industry peers. The definition uses a reasonable estimate (management estimate) of the replacement cost of assets and avoids accounting distortions, e.g. for impairments. It is calculated as the ratio between recurring cash flow and invested capital, where:
  • Recurring cash flow = Underlying EBITDA + (Dividends from associates and joint ventures – Underlying Earnings from associates and joint ventures) + Recurring capex + Recurring income taxes;
  • Invested capital = Replacement value of goodwill & fixed assets + Net working capital + Carrying amount of associates and joint ventures;
  • Recurring capex is normalized at 2,3% of the Replacement value of fixed assets net of Goodwill values;
  • Recurring income taxes are normalized at 28% of (Underlying EBIT – Underlying Earnings from associates and joint ventures).