MOL Group 2019: robust EBITDA beat the upgraded guidance

Source: press release, 21 February 2020

photo: MOL Group
photo: MOL Group

Despite the much challenging and volatile external environment at the end of the year, MOL Group generated USD 598 million Clean CCS EBITDA in Q4, bringing full-year Clean CCS EBITDA to USD 2.44 billion, above the recently upgraded guidance. Simplified free cash flow declined compared to 2018 as the company is pushing forward with its strategic transformational projects but remained positive in 2019 at USD 356 million.

Upstream production increased sequentially in Q4 and remained broadly unchanged in full-year 2019 at 111 mboepd, slightly above the guidance level. Due to the lower oil and gas prices, this volume generated 17% lower EBITDA compared to the 2018 results. Exploration and Production remained the key cash generator of MOL Group, providing a massive, nearly USD 700 million simplified free cash flow in 2019. In Upstream, MOL’s target for 2020 is twofold: to successfully complete the acquisition and to integrate the ACG assets that will add about 20,000 bpd to production; at the same time, the segment will continue to maximise value and cash flow generation of the existing assets through an efficient operation.

Downstream full year 2019 Clean CCS EBITDA dropped by 13% to USD 866 million, fully reflecting the weaker macro environment. In Q4 Clean CCS EBITDA declined to USD 191mn 21% lower compared to the last year’s fourth quarter as both refining and petchem margins were weaker at the end of last year, however refining margins were recovering in January-February 2020. Motor fuel demand growth remained very strong in the region in 2019, meaning a 3.4% increase that supported the Downstream segment.

The polyol project is on schedule and on budget; major construction site works boosted up in 2019 and the overall project completion is now at around 50%.

A final investment decision was made for the Rijeka Refinery Residue Upgrade project, aiming at turning INA’s Downstream into a sustainable and profitable business. The project includes the construction of a delayed coker with an expected commissioning in 2023.

Consumer Services was the “star performer” in 2019, EBITDA of the segment increased by 30% in Q4 2019 year-on-year in local currency terms (24% in USD), capped another strong year with double-digit earnings growth. The segment achieved several important milestones, including the non-fuel margin generation reaching 30% of the total margin by the end of the year. Accelerated non-fuel concept rollout continued: the number of reconstructed sites with Fresh Corners rose to 877 from 687 a year ago.

The Gas Midstream segment reached USD 71 million EBITDA in Q4, 48% higher than a year ago, as capacity demand rose significantly due to the uncertainty of Russia-Ukraine transit agreement. Operating expenses declined by more than 10% as fuel gas consumption and network loss decreased and so did the price of natural gas.

Chairman-CEO Zsolt Hernádi comments on the results, “We delivered robust financial results in 2019, even slightly ahead of our upgraded EBITDA guidance despite a weaker external environment. We also achieved important milestones along our 2030 transformation journey. We agreed to acquire major upstream assets in Azerbaijan, we have reached 50% completion at our flagship polyol project, while our Consumer Services business had another record-breaking year.”

“With our strong foundations and despite increasing global uncertainties, we look forward to 2020 with optimism. With the help of the new assets, we expect to grow our EBITDA to around USD 2.5billion, based on our mid-term base macro framework with a Brent crude price of around USD 60/bbl and assuming a more conservative petchem outlook. This shall again provide us enough cash flow to cover our investments into our strategic projects,” Hernádi adds.