VIENNA—Semperit Group achieved the best results in its recent corporate history in 2020, helped by a major restructuring measure and increased demand for rubber gloves in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Group earnings (EBITDA) tripled year-on-year to $249 million during the year, on 10.4 percent higher sales of $1.1 billion, Semperit announced March 18.
The Austrian group's medical sector Sempermed, which manufactures rubber gloves, posted a 53 percent increase in revenue to $537 million, offsetting a 12.6 percent decline in the industrial segment, which registered sales of $570 million.
Sempermed earnings rose sharply during the year, from $6.6 million in 2019 to $179 million in 2020, triggered by "exceptionally high demand in combination with a significant price increase for medical protective gloves."
Semperit said the rise in earnings also was a result of its "lengthy and intensive" restructuring efforts of the past couple years that enabled higher capacity utilization with increased production volumes.
The industrial segment, which includes the Semperflex, Sempertrans, Semperform and Semperseal units, saw earnings decline 12.4 percent to $91 million, as all businesses posted declines in sales and earnings.
Semperit said the pandemic further intensified the economic downturn that already had begun in 2019.
"The pandemic-related special economic situation in the business for medical protective gloves undoubtedly gave us a boost and led to an exceptionally high return on assets," Semperit A.G. CEO Martin Fullenbach said.
The group significantly increased its base profitability as a result of restructuring and transformation measures, which were carried out between 2018-2020, he said.
"The start of our cost-cutting program, which is already having a clearly positive effect, is accompanied by a comprehensive strategy project to shape the best possible starting point for the years ahead," he said.
Semperit had revealed plans to sell the Sempermed unit, but pulled pack on the plan when sales of gloves surged last year. When announcing its 2020 results, the Vienna-based Semperit said the strong results of Sempermed prompted it to further delay the potential divestment.