2.1 2020 activity report
In a year marked by an unprecedented health crisis and exacerbated volatility in the price of petroleum products, Rubis demonstrated tremendous resilience, limiting the decline in operating income and net income, Group share to 11% and 9% respectively. Against this backdrop of widespread uncertainty and constrained mobility, the Group maintained full confidence in its business model, continuing to invest to strengthen its market positions and ensure its long-term growth.
2020 marked the implementation of new proactive ESG actions (Environmental, Social and Governance criteria), with, in particular, the announcement of a 20% reduction target for Rubis Énergie’s CO2 emissions (scopes 1 and 2) by 2030 (versus 2019) and the by-law reform relating to the determination of the General Partners’ dividend (high-water mark) aimed at better aligning the interests of the two categories of partners.
While April 2020 saw a very significant drop in activity (-42%), the following months saw a steady return to normal, coupled with an increase in unit margins, enabling EBIT to stabilize in the second half of the year (following a decline of 21% in the first half). Excluding the Covid effect and on a like-for-like basis, EBITDA grew by 7% and EBIT by 3%, levels in line with historical organic growth.
|(in millions of euros)||2020||2019||Change|
|EBIT, of which||366||412||-11%|
|• Retail & marketing||269||324||-17%|
|• Support & services||120||108||+11%|
|Net income, Group share, of which||280||307||-9%|
|• Net income from continuing operations, Group share||180||279||-36%|
|• Net income from assets held for sale, Group share||100||28||+259%|
|Operating cash flow||591||498||+19%|
|Diluted earnings per share||€2.72||€3.09|
|Dividend per share||€1.80*||€1.75|
Overall activity showed exceptional resilience, with volumes down 8% on a reported basis and 16% on a like-for-like basis, thanks to the Group’s multi-country and multi-segment positioning and its dual midstream/downstream structure. The LPG segment (-5%), which serves the residential and agrifood sectors, held up very well, whereas jet fuel sales for aviation (-51%) were heavily affected. The balanced split between retail distribution and trading proved its cyclical complementarity, with strong growth in bitumen, as well as retail distribution (+20%), trading-supply (+7%) and storage (Rubis Terminal JV storage revenues: +10%), benefiting from the return of contango and stronger positioning in chemicals and agrifood products thanks to the transformative acquisition made in Spain (Tepsa).
The 2020 results include positive and negative non-recurring operating items: the disposal of 45% of Rubis Terminal resulted in a capital gain of €83 million and an operating profit of €17 million (for the period from January 1 to April 30, 2020), i.e. €100 million in net income, Group share from the activities sold. At the same time, a charge of €77 million was recorded in “Other operating income and expenses”, including a €46 million impairment recognized as of June 30, 2020 due to changes in the political and economic environment in Haiti during the first half of 2020, and a €25 million impairment on financial assets for which the Company has assessed a significant increase in credit risk based on a multi-factor analysis taking notably into account the local political and economic environment, leaving a positive balance of €6 million.
The Group’s year-end financial position was particularly sound, with a net debt to EBITDA ratio of less than 0.4, prompting Rubis to implement a share buyback and cancelation plan of €250 million with a view to increasing the intrinsic value of Rubis shares while preserving its capacity for action in terms of acquisitions.
Overall, in a particularly hostile environment, Rubis generated cash flow of €449 million, down 5% after adjustment for the contribution from Rubis Terminal. Taking into account the positive impact of the fall in petroleum product prices on working capital, operating cash flow was €591 million, up 19%.
As of December 31, 2020, financial debt, excluding lease liabilities, mainly consisted of borrowings from credit institutions for a total amount of €1,146 million, of which €268 million maturing in less than one year, and €96 million in bank overdrafts. Given the Group’s net debt to shareholders’ equity ratio as of December 31, 2020 and its cash flow, the repayment of this debt is not likely to be put at risk due to a breach of covenants. The net decrease in financial debt compared to December 31, 2019 is mainly explained by cash flows from operating activities and the disposal of the 45% stake in Rubis Terminal.
|(in millions of euros)|
|Financial position (excluding lease liabilities) as of December 31, 2019||(637)|
|Change in working capital||113|
|Rubis Terminal investments||(26)|
|Retail & marketing investments||(135)|
|Support & services investments||(84)|
|Net acquisitions of financial assets||169|
|Other investment flows (payment from Rubis Terminal to Rubis SCA)||232|
|RT capital increase and other flows with non-controlling interests (SARA)||(94)|
|Change in loans and advances||(28)|
|Other flows including lease liabilities||(28)|
|Dividends paid out to shareholders and minority interests||(210)|
|Increase in shareholders’ equity||118|
|Impact of change in scope of consolidation and exchange rates||(41)|
|Reclassification of the year-end net debt of assets held for sale||22|
|Financial position (excluding lease liabilities) as of December 31, 2020||(180)|
Capital expenditure amounted to €245 million, mainly focused on future growth (including €131 million in safety/maintenance and facility adaptation investments) versus €230 million in 2019:
|•||retail & marketing business: €135 million, spread over the division’s 31 profit centers and corresponding to the maintenance of facilities (terminals, filling plants, gas stations), capacity development (cylinders, tanks, logistics or gas stations), the purchase of new facilities or business goodwill, and the acquisition of the registered office in Lisbon;|
|•||support & services business: €84 million, focused mainly on the SARA refinery (€70 million, an exceptional level linked to a major maintenance project) and the acquisition of a new vessel for the Caribbean zone for €8 million;|
|•||Rubis Terminal: €26 million for the period prior to the establishment of the joint venture.|
Retail & marketing business
This division includes the distribution of fuels (gas station networks), liquefied gases, bitumen, commercial fuel oil, aviation fuel, marine fuel and lubricants in three regions: Europe, the Caribbean and Africa.
Diesel prices were down by an average of 38% versus 2019, with considerable volatility over the year. This development resulted in favorable year-on-year change in unit margins.
Generally speaking, Rubis operates in markets that allow it to transfer price volatility to the end customer (price formula systems or no constraints at all on prices), and as such to keep its margins stable over the long term.
Through its 31 profit centers, the division recorded retail distribution volumes of 5 million m3 during the period.
These volumes were spread across the three regions – Europe (16%), the Caribbean (39%) and Africa (45%) – offering the Group valuable diversity in terms of climate, economy (emerging countries and developed economies) and by type of end use (residential, transport, industry, utilities, aviation, marine, lubricants).
By product category, volumes break down as follows: 69% for all fuel oils (automotive, aviation, non-road diesel and lubricants), 24% for LPG and 7% for bitumen.
Overall activity was hit hard by the depressive impact of the Covid crisis. In total, from April to December 2020, the loss in volumes due to health restrictions was 887,000 m3 at constant scope, of which 837,000 m3 in white products and 102,000 m3 in LPG – bottled and small-bulk residential segments (cooking, hot water, heating) remaining close to the essential needs of the end consumer – and, conversely, a gain of 52,000 tonnes in bitumen.
However, the results were differentiated by country according to end uses: Morocco was more affected by the Covid effect, with direct exposure to tourism and the production sector, while in Madagascar, although bottled LPG held up well, deliveries of bulk LPG to the mining sector suffered from the complete shutdown of facilities as of March 2020, with reopening planned for the first quarter of 2021.
Road (gas stations) and air mobility were directly exposed to widespread lockdowns, and air traffic remains in crisis with global traffic down 50% (-62% for Rubis).
The gross sales margin all products combined was €627 million, down 7%, with a unit margin up 7% on a 38% decline in oil prices (ULSD prices Rotterdam).
The structural level of unit margins, higher in Europe than in the Caribbean, is attributable to the capital-intense nature of the LPG activity, which is predominant in that region, compared to the fuel distribution activity.
In total, the gross margin shortfall caused by Covid was €63 million over nine months on a like-for-like basis. This amount is calculated in relation to the 2019 fiscal year which was considered “normal”, and consequently does not include the loss of growth experienced by the Group in the past year.
The 8% decline in volumes, combined with a 1% increase in unit margin on a reported scope, explains the 7% decline in the overall gross margin and was behind the 17% decline in EBIT, with a substantial improvement in performance in the second half (-6% in H2 2020 versus -26% in H1 2020).
Capital expenditure totaled €135 million over the fiscal year, spread across the 27 operating subsidiaries. It covered recurring investments in gas stations, terminals, tanks, cylinders and customer facilities, aimed principally at bolstering market share growth, as well as investments in facility maintenance.
Retail & marketing Europe
The climate index was down 7% on 2019 and 17% compared to the 30-year index. Portugal and France were the area’s biggest contributors, accounting for nearly three-quarters of earnings.
Europe has the Group’s strongest LPG positioning and, in turn, greater residential demand, which explains the lower exposure to health restrictions. As a result, the decline in volumes was limited to 9%. The good performance of unit margins enabled the Group to generate stable results.
Retail & marketing Caribbean
French Antilles and French Guiana – Bermuda – Eastern Caribbean – Jamaica – Haiti – Western Caribbean
A total of 19 island facilities distribute fuel locally (400 gas stations, aviation, commercial, liquefied gases, lubricants and bitumen).
The Caribbean zone experienced a general decline in volumes (-15%). The decline in tourism and lockdown measures were the main reasons, with aviation sales down 60%.
Excluding Haiti, the decline in EBIT was 22% (versus 42% for the region as a whole), highlighting the island as the main factor in the deterioration. The political and economic situation in Haiti has deteriorated, with volumes and unit margins prompting the Group to recognize €46 million in asset impairment in the Caribbean petroleum products distribution business in the first half.
Retail & marketing Africa
|•||the bitumen sector made strong progress, in terms of both volumes (+22%) and earnings (+57%), reaping the benefits of intense commercial efforts. The Nigerian subsidiary, which accounts for almost half of the zone’s volumes, although faced with a decline in US dollar resources and worksite closures during lockdown, benefited from the advantages of its size as leader and its logistics capabilities, which enabled it to increase its market share. Significant commercial breakthroughs were noted elsewhere in the subgroup, notably in Togo, Ghana, Benin and Cameroon;|
|•||Madagascar, in white products, performed well in the context of Covid;|
|•||Madagascar, in LPG, was penalized by the closure of mining operations (Ambatovy), with reopening scheduled for the first quarter of 2021;|
|•||South Africa was affected by the decline in industrial volumes, while the bottled segment continued to grow (+10%). The shutdown of a local refinery (Engen) increased the use of imports at a time when the price structure of LPG was penalizing margins on imported volumes;|
|•||Morocco (-15%) saw its two main markets – ceramicists and tourism – heavily affected by health restrictions;|
|•||in Kenya, Rubis Energy Kenya (formerly KenolKobil) and Gulf Energy were penalized by severe inventory effects in the aviation segment when prices fell sharply in March. Although the situation was resolved at the end of the period, volumes were nevertheless affected by health restrictions and the decline in tourism. Numerous initiatives have been taken to improve the profitability of assets, both in the networks and among key accounts. The aviation segment returned to positive margins at the end of the period. Although the Covid crisis did not allow the full effects to be felt, Rubis Energy Kenya’s EBIT was nevertheless up 42% at €19 million.|
Support & services business
The contribution of the support & services business (excluding SARA) was €76 million (+11%), breaking down as follows:
|•||volumes handled in trading-supply-shipping totaled 1.18 million m3, compared to 1.33 million m3, with a contribution of €63.7 million, up 21% thanks to firm unit margins;|
|•||port and pipe service activities in Madagascar were down 17% due to the health crisis, which had a negative impact on the market, particularly for deliveries of Jet A1 and naphtha. As a result, the EBIT contribution was €12.7 million, down 20%.|
Contribution of the Rubis Terminal JV
Until April 30, 2020, the date of the effective sale of the securities, the contribution of the Rubis Terminal JV is shown as an asset held for sale, including management income (€17 million) and the capital gain on disposal (€83 million). It is subsequently recorded as an equity associate (€4.3 million) for the eight months (May to December) of operation of the joint venture.
In the Covid environment, the Rubis Terminal JV demonstrated exceptional resilience, recording an 11% increase in its EBITDA to €103 million: fuel oil storage revenues were relatively insensitive to variations in depot outflows despite the drop in consumption, the trend in chemical storage remained firm with capacity utilization rates exceeding 95% and the return of contango generating strong demand for capacity and the signing of new contracts, notably in Turkey.
|(in millions of euros)||2020||2019||Change|
|Storage services (incl. 50% of Antwerp)||186||168||+10%|
|Petroleum products (incl. biofuels)||112||101||+11%|
|Breakdown by country:||in €m||as a%|
|• the Netherlands||28||15%|
|• Spain (2 months)||9||5%|
|Sales revenue (incl. 50% of Antwerp)||285||306||-7%|
|EBITDA (incl. 50% of Antwerp)||101||92||+11%|
|Net interest expense||(22)||(4)||+433%|
|Net income, Group share||14||27||-49%|
Investments during the fiscal year totaled €53.6 million (excluding Antwerp), of which €6.9 million for Tepsa (over two months), and break down as follows:
In July 2020, the Rubis Terminal JV signed a memorandum of understanding for the acquisition of Tepsa, Spain’s leading storage company – capacity of 900,000 m3 on four sites generating EBITDA of €27 million – for an enterprise value of €330 million. The transaction was finalized with effect from October 31, 2020 and resulted in an extension of high-yield financing in the amount of €150 million. Overall leverage was kept at 5.5, with shareholders providing their share of the new money, including €96 million for Rubis SCA.
Net income, Group share amounted to €13.7 million, versus €27.1 million, mainly due to the weight of financial expense (€22 million, versus €4 million).