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Feb. 26, 2020, 1:50 a.m. EST

Solvay warns of 737 MAX, coronavirus headwinds

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By Mauro Orru

Solvay SA said Wednesday that its net profit in the fourth quarter of 2019 decreased, and warned that the coronavirus epidemic, the production halt of the 737 MAX and challenges in the oil-and-gas market could affect its first quarter of 2020.

The Belgian chemical company said net profit for the quarter fell to 163 million euros ($177.0 million) from EUR208 million the previous fourth quarter.

Net sales fell to EUR2.4 billion from EUR2.57 billion compared with analysts' estimates of roughly EUR2.58 billion, according to FactSet.

Earnings before interest and taxes for the quarter fell to EUR306 million from EUR325 million the previous quarter, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization for the same period decreased slightly to EUR525 million from EUR531 million.

"Our focus on customers and costs amid the challenging market backdrop enabled us to achieve stable Ebitda As we look ahead, we are taking additional efficiency measures to further align our structure to our GROW strategy and confront continuing headwinds," Chief Executive Ilham Kadri said.

Solvay said it expects organic underlying Ebitda to fall between 0% and 3% year-on-year in 2020, and that it expects consequences in the first quarter of 2020 from the 737 MAX production halt, the coronavirus epidemic, and challenges in the oil-and-gas market.

The company said it recommended a dividend of EUR3.75 gross per share, effectively leaving it unchanged from the previous year.

Write to Mauro Orru at mauro.orru@wsj.com; @MauroOrru94

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