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Ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted that we are able to welcome you to Bayer CropScience's Annual Press Conference in Monheim. I would like to welcome our guests from Germany and, especially, our guests from various countries in Europe, North America and Asia, all of whom are here today to find out more about the global agricultural economy and about Bayer CropScience.
In my presentation, I would like to initially take a look at current developments on the international agricultural markets, the resulting challenges for us and the future perspectives for the global agricultural economy. I will then focus primarily on the growth opportunities for Bayer CropScience, in particular in the area of plant biotechnology, and our future strategic alignment.
Let's start with a quick review of the past months.
The underlying conditions on the world agricultural markets have been highly favorable since late 2007. Market prices for the principal plant-based raw materials reached an all-time high in the first half of 2008, boosting investments in crop production and the related demand for high-quality seed and crop protection products worldwide. Climatic conditions in the most important growing regions were also favorable. These conditions allowed us to increase our sales in 2008 at constant exchange rates by 14 percent to a record level of EUR 6.4 billion.
EBITDA before special items advanced by 21 percent to EUR 1.6 billion in 2008. With an EBITDA margin before special items of 25.1 percent, we achieved our 2009 target well in advance.
The main growth drivers here were the new active ingredients that we have launched since 2000, which have developed extremely well. These active ingredients alone contributed EUR 1.8 billion in sales to the total. This success once again underlines our innovation leadership in the field of agrochemicals.
In addition, we have also been granted regulatory approval for two new substances: our herbicide thiencarbazone-methyl and the safener cyprosulfamide, which we have been marketing in initial countries since early 2009. We have also achieved important strategic progress in our Seeds & Traits business in the BioScience business unit. The introduction of new seed varieties together with regional expansion have allowed us to markedly expand our business in this sector.
The demand for agrochemicals remained high in the first half of 2009, despite an overall deterioration in the market conditions relative to the first half of 2008. Following our record year in 2008, retailers had only minimal inventories of our products which meant that sales developed positively in the first quarter in particular.
Prices for plant-based raw materials were subject to significant fluctuation in the first half of 2009. This subsequently had an impact on liquidity in sales channels and led to uncertainty among farmers in many markets.
Unfavorable weather conditions made themselves noticeable in major agricultural regions such as Latin America, southern Europe and Asia. In addition, the level of insect and disease infestation was lower overall.
Despite various factors negatively affecting the market, Bayer CropScience managed to grow its business in the first half of 2009.
The Crop Protection segment recorded growth of 4.0 percent to EUR 3.3 billion. The main drivers were our herbicides and seed treatment products, while sales of fungicides declined slightly in almost all regions. Our Seed Treatment business developed gratifyingly, partly as a result of earlier sales for the fall season relative to last year.
Sales in the Environmental Science/BioScience segment posted a gratifying 10.1 percent increase in the first half of 2009, to EUR 698 million. This development is mainly attributable to increases in our seed business, in particular with canola seed. In the Environmental Science segment, increases in products for consumers almost compensated for reductions in the business with products for professional users.
Our EBITDA before special items increased by 2 percent to EUR 1.2 billion in the first half of 2009. The main contributing factor here was higher selling prices, but increased sales volumes also played a part. These increases were offset by higher raw material costs and increased expenditure for marketing activities.
In regard to sales developments by region, we can see that our growth in the first half of 2009 was primarily thanks to increases in North America and Asia. The main growth drivers were our seed business and our innovative crop protection products. Sales in Latin America declined primarily because of the more unfavorable growing conditions in Brazil and Argentina compared with the same period last year.
An important factor with a global impact on farmers' decisions on what crops to grow is how agricultural raw material prices develop.
Prices have undergone considerable fluctuation so far this year. While prices for cotton, for example, have increased again since the beginning of the year, the prices for the major crops wheat and corn dropped. This has an in some cases considerable effect on the farmers' decisions on which seeds, crop protection agents and fertilizers to use. The great volatility has led farmers in some regions to postpone their purchasing decision in the hope of more favorable prices. The crop protection industry has felt this reticence more and more as the year progresses.
Following the good results in the first six months, our performance at the start of the third quarter has been more subdued. In addition to declining prices for wheat and corn and unfavorable weather conditions, particularly in Europe and on the Indian subcontinent, the relative late start of the season in Argentina as well as a drop in demand in the United States have had an impact on our business.
Against this background, we have to consider our target of retaining a margin forecast of a clean EBITDA margin of 25 percent for the full year as ambitious.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We believe that the medium to long-term perspectives for the agricultural economy and the crop science industry remain fundamentally positive.
Despite recently announced reductions, we expect the prices for agricultural raw materials to remain at a significantly higher level than a few years ago in the long term. This has also been confirmed by macroeconomists, in particular the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The reasons for this are obvious. The global challenges facing the agricultural industry remain unchanged and are becoming increasingly significant. A growing number of people have to be fed from an area of land that is, at best, remaining constant. This represents an enormous challenge for the global food supply.
If we want to avoid harming the environment in the affected countries and prevent the common, widespread destruction of woodland to create new arable land, we have no choice but to substantially increase the productivity of the land already under cultivation. Crop protection solutions play a role in safeguarding the food supply, but high-quality seed with improved traits is also making an ever more important contribution.
We are therefore still firmly convinced that we need a second green revolution in agriculture, utilizing all technological possibilities to master the challenge of safeguarding the global food supply.
Internationally renowned scientists and institutions agree that this increase in productivity, employing all means available, is vital. For example, Professor Matin Qaim from the Institute for Global Food Economy and Rural Development at the University of Göttingen stresses that food production will have to be roughly doubled by 2050. He believes that new technologies, in particular modern seed breeding and plant biotechnology, will play a particularly significant role.
Dr. Achim Dobermann, Head of the internationally renowned International Rice Research Institute in Manila, Philippines, likewise stresses that a marked increase in productivity is the only way to ensure a safe supply of food for the constantly growing world population.
The heads of state at this summer's G8 summit in Italy also gave a clear signal towards safeguarding the supply of food and intensifying agricultural research. Now it is time for action to follow words.
We at Bayer CropScience want to use our innovative power in conventional crop protection and our research capacities in plant biotechnology to make an important contribution here.
We believe that the growing demand for agricultural produce in the medium and long-term will entail excellent perspectives for our markets: we estimate the market to grow by an average of 3 percent each year in the next 10 years, with the total market increasing from approximately EUR 48 billion to some EUR 66 billion by 2018. While we may see above-average growth of 6 percent in the plant biotechnology segment, we expect moderate growth of about 1 to 2 percent on average per year in the conventional crop protection market. Consequently, the share of the Seeds & Traits business will increase to 48 percent by 2018, putting it almost on a par with the crop protection business. We are taking steps to address this development.
I would now like to explain how we intend to align our growth strategy to address the anticipated developments.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our objective is to be the partner of choice for farmers worldwide. To this end, we have set ourselves three strategic priorities
- We want to further strengthen our role as an innovation leader – in all areas of Bayer CropScience
- We want to strategically extent our portfolio – particularly in the Seeds & Traits market
- We want to expand our business in the increasingly significant, fast-growing developing countries and emerging markets, and offer sustainable solutions for farmers.
Let me turn first to the topic of innovation leadership.
Bayer CropScience regards itself as a leading innovative company in the crop science industry and underlines this role with the strongly research-based alignment of its portfolio. With an annual research and development budget of some EUR 650 million and 3,850 scientists, Bayer is one of the world's leading innovative companies in the agricultural industry.
Our successes are the result of our focus on traditional chemical research which we use to find new active ingredients and mechanisms of action for conventional crop protection applications. This is now supplemented by an integrated research approach in the areas of plant breeding and crop traits.
In addition, we are also working in future-oriented research areas on new integrated methods and solutions in the fields of plant health and quality, nutrient uptake, diagnosis and biological pest control.
Only with an integrated research approach and solutions being contributed from all areas can agriculture continue to produce sufficient quantities of high-quality food and animal feed, and satisfy the growing demand for alternative, plant-based energy sources in the future.
As a result, we can now present a strong pipeline and have set ourselves the goal of bringing ten new active ingredients to market during the time from 2008 to 2012. In view of the outstanding properties of these active ingredients, we have now raised the peak sales potential of this group of molecules from EUR 1 billion to EUR 1.25 billion.
Three new fungicides are scheduled to reach market maturity in the coming years. In addition, we have a new herbicide and two new seed treatment substances in development. We plan to launch isotianil, a new rice fungicide, in spring 2010 to strategically strengthen our portfolio in Asia.
Bacillus firmus, a biological pest control substance used as a seed treatment, is a new addition to our portfolio of conventional products to combat nematodes in the seed treatment market.
Penflufen is a new active ingredient for seed treatment of numerous crops. We are expecting initial regulatory approval in North America to be granted in good time for the 2012 sowing season.
I would like to present three new active ingredients that are very significant for our portfolio to you in more detail.
Fluopyram was developed to effectively combat various problematic plant diseases caused by fungal pathogens which can lead to substantial economic damage. It is used in more than 70 crops, including vines and grapes, pome and stone fruit, vegetables and field crops. One important advantage that is particularly beneficial for the food industry and ultimately also the consumer is that it improves storability and increases the shelf life of harvested produce. We expect a peak sales potential of up to EUR 200 million for this active ingredient.
Bixafen is an innovative cereals fungicide that, thanks to its positive effects on plant physiology, exerts a harvest-increasing effect. It is scheduled to be launched in various European countries from 2010 onwards. Bixafen was developed specifically for leaf application to combat speckled leaf blotch (Septoria tritici) and rust. Bixafen will set a new standard in combination with our established active ingredient prothioconazole. In addition, as a member of a completely new group of active ingredients, Bixafen is extremely suitable for use as a component in resistance management. We expect an annual peak sales potential of about EUR 300 million for this fungicide. As such, this active ingredient has blockbuster potential, as we in the crop protection industry say about products with predicted sales of this magnitude.
Bayer CropScience's research in the economically significant market segment of weed control agents has also been successful. We are particularly proud of indaziflam, as this new substance is the result of an intensive interdepartmental collaboration between our Crop Protection and Environmental Science business units.
Indaziflam is characterized by an extremely long duration of action and is effective against a broad spectrum of difficult-to-control weeds. The substance is intended for use in agricultural crops – for example, fruit- and wine-growing, citrus fruit, olives and sugarcane – as well as a large number of non-agricultural markets, including landscaping, for example on golf courses and sports fields, public lawns and gardens and ornamental plants.
The first marketing authorization for use in the non-agricultural segment is expected in 2011. We believe that this new active ingredient has an annual sales potential of more than EUR 150 million.
However, innovation at Bayer CropScience is not restricted solely to the search for active ingredients for agriculture. As one of our activities in the field of public health, our company is also playing a crucial role in malaria prevention, which we are driving forward by improving the control of the disease-spreading Anopheles mosquito with specially developed applications such as mosquito nets pretreated with insecticides. We have found a new technological solution with which the tried and true insecticidal active ingredient deltamethrin – which is recommended by the WHO – can be integrated directly into the nets. We regard these novel mosquito nets as an important contribution to support the United Nations in their efforts to get malaria under control in the coming years by providing a universal supply of mosquito nets.
We also have a well-filled pipeline in BioScience, which comprises our activities with seeds and plant traits. The traits currently in development at Bayer CropScience cover solutions for cotton, rapeseed, rice, soybeans and corn. We are planning to launch 14 seed varieties with innovative traits in these crops between 2008 and 2016 and expect a combined incremental peak revenue potential of about EUR 500 million. My colleague Dr. Joachim Schneider will report to you in more detail about our plans to expand our traits pipeline, but I would first like to explain our fundamental strategy using cotton as an example.
With our research, we want to make a contribution to ensuring that farmers around the world can utilize a larger selection of high-performance trait solutions. We are therefore developing new solutions, for example for herbicide tolerance, stress tolerance and resistance to insect pests and plant diseases. It is becoming increasingly important to combine these different solutions into what are termed “stacks”. For example, next year we will be the first company worldwide to offer cotton seed with an in-built tolerance to the two leading herbicides glyphosate and glufosinate-ammonium, thus giving farmers more freedom in the selection of the crop protection solutions they can use.
In the year after that, we intend to supply this cotton with additional integrated protection against the most important insect pests. Starting in 2012, we plan to bring cotton varieties from our research program to market that have a “double stack“ producing two different substances against insect pests. That means that in the future we will be able to market a unique product with four traits: a double herbicide-tolerant and double insect-resistant stack.
With this research strategy, we are increasingly replacing solutions from third-parties that we previously licensed in with traits from our own research, thus further improving our margin in BioScience.
Our rapeseed range will be extended with multiple stacks in similar fashion, and we are also expanding our portfolio in rice. In this area, we are on the one hand using further improvements in the properties of our conventional hybrid varieties, but are also working with green genetic engineering methods to develop desired plant traits.
We are also increasingly focusing our research on the soybean. We want to bring a new property to market in the coming years: a tolerance to HPPD inhibitors, a new, innovative class of herbicidal active ingredients in which Bayer CropScience is the world leader and which we manufacture at our facility in Dormagen that some of you visited yesterday. Combined with other measures for weed control, the HPPD inhibitors will offer a variety of options in future for effectively combating increasingly resistant weeds.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We intend to strategically extend our portfolio of innovative solutions for agriculture in future, in particular in the areas of high-quality seed and optimized plant traits.
In crop protection, we already have a comprehensive portfolio today as well as a first-class pipeline in all major indications. Important elements such as safener additives and formulation technologies round off our range of products. At the same time, we are intensively conducting research in new growth areas and investing in projects that make a contribution to plant health. These include diagnostic procedures that will guarantee targeted use of our products and help to safeguard and boost yields.
Another major element is plant traits that can be selectively optimized using state-of-the-art technologies. As I mentioned before, our company has a comprehensive pipeline of traits. By inlicensing further traits but also outlicencing our own plant traits, we are creating more options for farmers. We are working together with numerous partners to further develop our traits platform and have entered into technology agreements to secure access to major innovative approaches in the fields of genomics, bioinformatics, gene finding and event development.
An integrated range of products and services in future will necessarily include the development and marketing of high-quality, high-yield seed. This requires the greatest possible expertise in breeding research on the basis of conventional and modern breeding procedures. The result does not necessarily have to be exclusively genetically modified seed. We are always on the lookout for the most suitable method for developing the solutions needed by farmers as quickly as possible.
In this, we use both conventional plant breeding and green genetic engineering methods but also state-of-the-art non-GM solutions such as marker-assisted breeding processes.
There is going to be a certain amount of reappraisal of the significance of “chemical crop protection“, “seeds“ and “traits“ for value creation in individual crops in the coming years. Value creation will tend to focus more strongly on crop protection, plant traits or seeds, depending on the crop in question and the specific requirements for safeguarding the yield and quality in each segment. We therefore want to operate much more intensively in all three sub-sections of the global crop science market.
For this, we will have to look far beyond the individual products in the long term. While individual product ranges and their optimization can remain at the center of strategic considerations for 40 years and longer, the customers' thinking, planning and purchasing decisions are focused on specific crops.
Our goal is not only to simply provide better products but to deliver attractive, universal solutions. In ideal cases, these integrated solutions will comprise the seed, optimized traits, crop protection and tailor-made service.
We will exploit the synergy potential and increasingly integrate it into our business model in order to better intermesh the Crop Protection and BioScience business units and thus fundamentally strengthen our customer orientation.
In the plants that are currently our key crops – cotton, rapeseed/canola, rice and vegetables – we already have a presence in the conventional crop protection business and other areas with plant traits, germplasm and our own seeds. In soybeans and corn, we are seeking to reposition ourselves in the market with our in-house technologies and the plant traits we have developed ourselves. In addition, we have taken an important first step towards broadening our set-up in cereals with the cooperation project we have agreed with the Australian state research organization CSIRO. As with soybeans, we want to further extend our business with cereals right through to breeding. In addition, we are also conducting research into the applicability of our technologies for the development of traits in sugarcane and sugar beets. We also want to investigate the extent to which we can enlarge our integrated range for other, lesser arable crops.
These measures are a systematic continuation of our growth strategy over the past years. To this end, we have made numerous acquisitions in recent years, extended our business into new, regional markets and signed licensing agreements for state-of-the-art technologies. We have also entered into numerous research and development cooperation agreements with public and private partners. Last but not least, we have successfully launched a large number of new seed varieties with enhanced traits.
In the past six years from 2003 to 2008, Bayer CropScience has invested more than EUR 1 billion in systematically expanding the BioScience business. To continue growing successfully in this business, we intend to invest considerable resources in the future as well. We plan to spend some EUR 3.5 billion from 2009 to 2018 in Research & Development and the expansion of our infrastructure alone.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The sustained expansion of our business in fast-growing new markets is the third pillar of our strategic approach to becoming a leading provider for farmers worldwide.
We have already recorded double-digit growth rates with our business in the past three years in the growth regions Brazil, India, China and Eastern Europe and Russia. Increased use of high-quality, innovative technologies to safeguard yields and boost harvests is being reported in these countries.
During this time, Russia has held first place among the BRIC states with a growth rate of 31 percent. However, Brazil has also posted considerable growth with an average annual rate of 27 percent. There is also great potential for agriculture in China and the markets of Eastern Europe, where productivity will have to be raised to meet the growing demand for high-quality food and animal feed. Another important market for the future is India, where we have successfully realigned our portfolio in recent years.
Let me briefly explain the example of India in more detail. The medium-term perspectives for growth in India are excellent as farmers are increasingly investing in boosting agricultural production and modern agricultural engineering. In view of the fact that the population is growing by around 20 million people per year, this topic is becoming increasingly important.
With the introduction of modern, innovative crop protection agents and commercial seed, we have already been able to participate in this growth in recent years, and India has since developed into our second-largest business after Japan in the Region Asia.
Despite the global financial crisis, we expect the agricultural economy to continue developing positively in the medium term as well. We want to continuously extend our business in this environment and support farmers with comprehensive solutions from the seed to the harvest to boost productivity. This year, we expect our business in India to develop positively despite unfavorable weather conditions as a result of the late and only moderate monsoon.
As one of the world's leading companies in the agricultural sector, we have a great responsibility for our employees, our customers and our partners in the supply chain and their families. Our systematic commitment in the areas of education, safe use of crop protection agents, agricultural efficiency and rural development shows that we take our duty to society seriously.
I would like to explain this in more detail using India as an example.
We are convinced that education can open the door to a better future for disadvantaged children in rural Indian communities. Our extensive “Learning for Life“ initiative is aimed at increasing the matriculation rate at schools in India and getting school drop-outs back into regular schooling. We increase the attractiveness of school attendance by introducing work-related elements into lessons and are sponsoring a vocational school near Hyderabad. By specifically teaching knowledge about crop production, we also help local farmers to increase their harvest yields and thus earn a higher income. This is the basis for a better standard of living. We also instruct our customers and suppliers on how to use crop protection products safely.
Our “Target 400“ program covers a wide range of these measures for farmers involved in cotton production. So far, more than 5,000 farmers have substantially increased their productivity and profitability by taking part in our program. We also help to improve the livelihoods of farmers and their families in disadvantaged rural communities in India, for example by granting micro-credits.
With this holistic approach, we are systematically helping to improve rural development.
Ladies and gentlemen,
allow me to briefly summarize the cornerstones of our strategy once again. In recent years, we have continuously developed our business and systematically implemented our strategic goals. We believe that there is significant potential for growth in the agricultural economy and the crop science industry in both the medium and the long term.
We are convinced that innovation remains the crucial factor for guaranteeing success in our industry, and we will continue to make substantial resources available for our research and development activities.
To be able to supply our partners and customers in agriculture with our products and services even better in the future, we want to substantially expand our business with high-quality seeds and optimized plant traits. In this, we are now focusing primarily on cereals and soybeans in addition to our current key crops cotton, rapeseed oil, rice and vegetables. We also want to further intensify our trait activities for corn and sugar crops.
We want to systematically exploit the opportunities for growth arising from the modernization of agriculture in developing countries and emerging markets, and present ourselves as the partner of choice for farmers around the world.
Ladies and gentlemen,
we have set ourselves the goal of becoming the global innovation leader in every area in which we are active – with sustainable crop solutions from seed to harvest. In this way, we want to help farmers around the world meet the ever-increasing demand for affordable and high quality food, feed, fiber and energy crops.
We at Bayer CropScience share a passion for discovering new approaches – anywhere in our company. Thus we help shape the future of agriculture and create value for our customers and society. This is how we live “Science For A Better Life“ every day.
Thank you for your attention.
This release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer Group or subgroup management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Bayer’s public reports which are available on the Bayer website at www.bayer.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.