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Press Release: HELM Group – 2018 Results

HELM Group earnings rise

Janneke Menzel

Janneke Menzel

Manager External Communication

Janneke.Menzel@helmag.com Business Card

Hamburg, 31 May 2019

Full financial year results 2018:

  • Global revenues: EUR 8.3 billion (+11%)
  • Consolidated net profit: EUR 66.1 million (2017: EUR 18.4 million)
  • Launch of HELM PROMAN Methanol AG, a globally active Methanol-marketing joint venture
  • Pharma Business Line acquires a participation in development company Phargentis SA, thus accessing the demanding lung-disease treatment segment.

The HELM Group continued its growth trajectory in 2018, achieving a satisfactory result with increases in both revenues and operating result. Global revenues rose by 11% to EUR 8.3 billion.

The Group closed the year with a net profit of EUR 66.1 million (2017: EUR 18.4 million). The Chemicals, Fertilizer and Pharma Business Lines made a decisive contribution to this improvement in earnings in 2018.

Hans-Christian Sievers, Chairman of the Executive Board of HELM AG, comments: “We have broken new ground over the past year. Thanks to our participation in the biggest Methanol plant in North America and the creation of HELM Proman Methanol, we are forging a new position in the global Methanol market. At the same time, in our core business we are consistently demonstrating the added value that we deliver through our logistics, distribution and international marketing activities – as the new contracts we have won demonstrate.”

Group result: performance in figures

- All figures in million EUR -201820172016
- External revenues5,106 (+24%)4,111 (+6%)3,867 (-15%)
- Global revenues8,297 (+11%)7,445 (+7%)6,935 (-18%)
- EBITDA112.3 (+140%)46.7 (+131%)20.2 (-71%)
- Earnings before taxes95.5 (+285%)24.8 (+786%)2.8 (-95%)
- Consolidated net income66.118.4-15.6

Europe was the HELM Group’s main sales market in 2018, with a share of 56.3% of revenues, followed by America with a share of 27.0% and Asia with 16.2%.

Equity was strengthened further and amounted to EUR 779 million (2017: EUR 727 million). The Group has a very healthy equity ratio of 42%, thus assuring its independence and stability. Planned investments will see the expansion of all four Business Lines. 

Business Line performance overview

Chemicals: Feedstocks, Derivatives and Methanol

Operating in a largely positive market environment with rising product prices, HELM Chemicals improved consolidated revenues to around EUR 3.7 billion in 2018 (2017: EUR 2.6 billion), equivalent to an increase of approximately 42%. 

Methanol product trading made a substantial contribution to the commercial success of the Chemicals Business Line. Since June 2018, Methanol has been marketed by the HELM Proman Methanol Group based in Wollerau, Switzerland. With Sales Offices in Houston, USA, and Singapore, HELM Proman Methanol meets demand for this product worldwide. This new joint venture also increases the volume of Methanol HELM brings to market, thanks to Natgasoline LLC – a new Methanol plant in the USA which has recently come on-stream and in which HELM holds a participation. 

Acids and Lyes performed positively. A new facility was opened in Burgos, Spain.

With a share of 73%, Chemicals makes the largest contribution to revenues of all HELM Group Business Lines.


In 2018, the Fertilizer market proved volatile once again. 

In a deliberate effort to mitigate risks in this volatile environment the Fertilizer Business Line strengthened its focus on structured marketing and distribution. In the USA, HELM expanded across the distribution business, bringing a new terminal in Alexandria, Louisiana into operation. In 2018, the Business Line generated revenues of EUR 760 million (2017: EUR 922 million). 

Fertilizer is the second-largest contributor to revenues throughout the HELM Group with a share of 14.9% and delivered a solid contribution to earnings in 2018. 

Crop Protection

Profitability in the agricultural sector was adversely affected by both increased production costs and a generally difficult market for crops such as maize and soya. Both these factors had a negative impact on the trade in crop protection products. 

In this challenging environment HELM Crop Protection managed to increase revenues by 10.7% to EUR 290 million (2017: EUR 262 million). However, this is not a satisfactory result: supply shortages in China led to higher prices which could not be passed on to customers in full. In addition, currency fluctuations, particularly in Latin America, burdened the result.

The main Crop Protection sales markets are Europe and North and South America.


HELM Pharma again improved its operating results. Revenues totalled EUR 202 million (2017: EUR 192 million). 

HELM’s Pharma business is organised as two Divisions, one trading in API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients), the other focusing on the development and marketing of Pharmaceutical products. Both Divisions performed successfully, making a major contribution to the HELM Group’s earnings.

In 2018, HELM acquired a participation in the development company Phargentis SA, which specialises in inhalation products for the treatment of COPD.

In addition, the Pharma Business Line was successful in bringing a total of four products to market, for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, herpes simplex, and skin and soft tissue infections.

Human Resources

In 2018 the total number of employees in the global HELM organisation rose. As at 31 December 2018, HELM employed 664 (2017: 627) staff in Hamburg, 733 (688) in Germany and 1,621 (1,521) in total worldwide, including those working within participations. 

Outlook for 2019

Despite the general weakening of economic growth worldwide, HELM is well positioned and views 2019 with confidence as a year in which the Group will continue to drive its growth.

International subsidiary companies’ regional distribution businesses are also providing a stable source of earnings in the current financial year.

Thanks to the new joint venture HELM Proman Methanol, HELM is now even better placed to market Methanol worldwide. This has already resulted in increased revenues in the first quarter of 2019. New supply contracts will also have a positive effect in 2019.

About HELM

HELM AG is a family-owned company based in Hamburg, Germany, with a business tradition over 118 years old. As a multifunctional sales and distribution organisation, HELM is active in the chemicals industry, the crop protection industry, the active pharmaceutical ingredients and pharmaceuticals industries, and in the fertilizer industry. HELM is one of the world’s largest chemicals marketing companies and guarantees access to the world’s key markets through its specific regional knowledge and over 100 subsidiaries, sales offices and participations in over 30 countries.