(updated on March 26) In view of the rapidly spreading cornavirus epidemic, the Austrian fiber producer withdrew its former guidance and said it is now expêecting its results to decline in 2020. Due to a “historically difficult” market environment in 2019, Lenzing posted lower revenues and earnings for 2019. Sales reached €2,110 million, down by 3.3 from the previous year, hampered by lower selling prices and standard fiber volumes, the company said. The Ebitda margin narrowed by 2.1 percentage points to 15.5 percent, while net income dropped by 22.4 percent to €114.9 million

During the year, the share of specialty fibers increased significantly to account for 51.6 percent of revenues, compared with 45.5 percent in 2018. This was driven by the positive mix effects and more resilient specialty fiber prices in 2019. The management said the focus on specialty fibers has been contributing to the company’s resilience in the past year.

One of the highlights of the period is the start of the construction of a state-of-the-art lyocell production facility in Thailand. This is part of the group’s efforts to achieve stable and profitable growth, while improving the ecological footprint of the textile and nonwovens industry by expanding the production of specialty fibers. It is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021.

Compared with the previous year, the number of end products labelled with the Tencel brand – which are made with specialty fibers – nearly doubled to 173 million.

Lenzing is aiming for a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions, for which investments of more than €100 million in sustainable technologies and production facilities are earmarked in the coming years.

The group will also build a dissolving wood pulp plant in Brazil with its partner Duratex, and Lenzing said the plant is expected to start operations in the first half of 2022. Lenzing and Duratex hold 51 percent and 49 percent, respectively, in the joint venture.I