Looking ahead, Bunch said, “We expect to realize benefits from modest global growth. Regionally, we expect growth to remain broadest in the U.S. economy, spanning several coatings end-use markets. Emerging-regions growth, while still uneven, is expected to continue at a solid pace for PPG, comparable to recent trends. In Europe, which represents about one-third of our sales, economies appear to be improving but remain fragile. In 2014, we anticipate measured growth in that region, and we expect to realize solid earnings leverage due to the actions we have taken the past two years to significantly reduce our regional cost structure.”
Bunch also said the company remained slightly ahead of schedule on achieving targeted acquisition-related cost synergies relating to the North American architectural coatings acquisition. He added that the restructuring program approved in the third quarter 2013 is focused primarily on achieving the remaining synergies, and those actions are now underway. As a result, the company expects incremental cost savings of between $75 million and $90 million in 2014.
“Lastly, we ended the year with a strong balance sheet and cash position, which we expect to be supplemented by continued strong free cash flow, along with the receipt of about $1.5 billion in after-tax proceeds from the pending sale of our ownership interest in the Transitions Optical joint venture. Over the next 18 to 24 months, we anticipate deploying between $3.0 billion and $4.0 billion of cash in a disciplined manner on incremental earnings-growth initiatives, and returning cash to shareholders,” Bunch concluded.
The company today reported year-to-date cash from continuing operations of about $1.8 billion, a 15 percent increase versus the prior year. Full-year capital spending was slightly more than $500 million. Cash used for business acquisitions totaled about $1.0 billion. The company also noted that 2013 marked the 42 nd consecutive year of increasing annual per-share dividend payouts, with cash dividends paid of about $350 million. The company also repurchased $1.0 billion, or 5.7 million shares, of PPG stock. PPG ended the year with cash and short-term investments totaling $1.75 billion.Fourth Quarter 2013 Reporting Segment Financial Results
- Performance Coatings segment net sales for the quarter were $1.4 billion, up 25 percent. The increase was due primarily to acquired-business sales, partly offset by a 3 percent decline in segment volumes. Aerospace net sales growth continued, aided by ongoing industry growth and sales from acquired businesses. Automotive refinish net sales grew in all major regions, including continued emerging-region volume gains and a return to growth in Europe. Excluding the favorable acquisition impacts, architectural coatings sales results by distribution channel were similar to results in recent quarters, including company-owned stores growth of more than 10 percent and lower national retail channel sales due to a previously disclosed change in products sold to a large retail customer. Lower but stabilizing marine new-build activity remained a large negative impact to segment volumes. Overall, the segment experienced normal seasonal trends, although the size and seasonality of the acquired architectural business amplified the impact in comparison to prior years. Segment earnings of $179 million were up 1 percent as a result of the increased net-sales impacts, partly offset by higher growth-related expenses in aerospace and automotive refinish.
- Industrial Coatings segment net sales for the quarter were $1.2 billion, increasing 10 percent, or $108 million, versus the prior year primarily due to strong volume improvement, with acquisition-related gains also contributing. Volumes in automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) coatings grew by more than 10 percent globally, outpacing a global industry growth rate of about 3 percent, with each major PPG region delivering similar growth rates. The industrial coatings business also grew volumes globally, led by North American gains, growth in Asia that remained varied by end-use market, and initial volume recovery in European demand that led to a flat year-over-year comparison for that region. Strong Asian packaging coatings growth was offset by lower European demand. Segment earnings for the quarter were $174 million, up 21 percent as a result of the higher volumes and continued cost management.
- Architectural Coatings – EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) segment net sales for the quarter were $466 million, up $1 million versus the prior-year quarter primarily due to favorable foreign currency translation. Fourth quarter volumes declined by 4 percent year over year, consistent with the previous quarter and a significant improvement versus the first half 2013, when year-over-year volume declines averaged 10 percent. Despite the lower volumes, segment earnings of $22 million were $13 million higher than the previous year due to lower costs, including benefits from completed restructuring actions and ongoing discretionary cost management.
- Optical and Specialty Materials segment net sales for the quarter were $309 million, up $37 million versus the prior year. Optical products net sales improved as continued global demand growth was supplemented by customer inventory stocking ahead of the TRANSITIONS(R) Generation VII product introduction in North America, which commenced this month. Silica products volume also grew on improved demand. Segment earnings of $85 million were up 25 percent versus the prior year stemming from the sales improvement, partly offset by higher selling-related costs supporting the higher demand and product launch.
- Glass segment net sales were $264 million for the quarter, up $23 million year over year. Segment volumes grew 8 percent on improved global fiber glass demand. Flat glass pricing increased, as did commercial construction-related demand. Segment earnings were $22 million, an increase of $14 million versus the prior-year quarter. Segment earnings improved due to higher net sales and manufacturing cost improvements, partly offset by the negative impact of cost inflation, including higher transportation and natural gas costs.