AVON LAKE, Ohio—Materials maker Avient Corp. wrapped up a transformational year in 2020 and has high hopes for 2021.
Avient—which changed its name from PolyOne on July 1—posted sales of $3.24 billion for 2020, up more than 13 percent vs. 2019. That total includes the masterbatch concentrates business of Clariant A.G. that Avient acquired during the year. The firm's profit from continuing operations was up 76 percent to $134 million.
2020 "was a galvanizing year for us," Robert Patterson, president, chairman and CEO, said on a Feb. 9 conference call.
"We took care of each other and our customers and showed that culture is everything," he added. "The Clariant deal transformed our portfolio into high growth and less cyclical end markets."
Like many firms, Avient's 2020 results were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which slowed business beginning in March. But Patterson said the firm rebounded when the economy began to reopen, with improved results from consumer applications, health care and food and beverage packaging.
Chief Financial Officer Jamie Beggs added on the call that Avient's growth drivers for 2020 were sustainable solutions, health care, composites and growth in engineering resins.
Avient now expects sales growth of 10 percent in the first quarter of 2021 and 8 percent for the full year.
Among Avient's business units, Color, Additives & Inks, which including the Clariant business, showed sales growth of 50 percent to $1.5 billion in 2020. The unit's operating income increased 22 percent to $180 million.
Specialty Engineered Materials saw 2020 sales decline almost 5 percent to $708 million, as operating income grew 13 percent to $94 million. In Distribution, including resins and compounds, sales in 2020 were down almost 7 percent to $1.11 billion, while operating income slipped 8 percent to $69 million.
The $1.4 billion Clariant acquisition added 46 global manufacturing sites and technology centers and about 3,500 employees to Avient's previous total. Avient was involved in another transformative deal in late 2019 when it sold its Performance Products & Solutions unit to SK Capital for $775 million.
Patterson said on the call that Avient "would love to do another deal" like Clariant, but he pointed out that deal "was years in the making."
"These deals do take a lot of time, but we'll get something done if we can find a good fit," he added.
Overall, Patterson said he's optimistic about 2021, even after the challenges of 2020.
"We create a ton of cash and we have an awesome culture," he added. "That shouldn't be overlooked."
On Wall Street, Avient's per-share stock price bottomed out at near $15 in mid-March at the start of the pandemic. It has since recovered strongly and was just over $42 in early trading Feb. 11.
Avient employs more than 9,000 worldwide. The firm is one of the world's largest concentrate makers and one of North America's largest compounders and resin distributors.