Certainly, 2021 was a very challenging year given the ever-evolving pandemic. In addition, we’ve learned to adapt and manage through a myriad of obstacles, including global supply chain disruptions, raw material scarcity, labor shortages and overall cost inflation.
That’s why I am very proud and appreciative of our approximately 50,000 employees who helped to navigate through this past year. As a result of their dedication to living our values – The PPG Way – we were able to continue to support our customers, deliver strong results for our shareholders, and maintain the support of our communities around the world. Every day, our employees’ commitment to our company’s purpose - to protect and beautify the world - is the reason why we remain well positioned today and for the future.
We achieved all-time record sales of $16.8 billion in 2021, up 21% compared to the prior year. This was led by strong organic growth of 10% and several strategic acquisitions. In addition, we delivered record adjusted earnings per share (EPS) with year-over-year growth of more than 10%, despite unprecedented levels of inflation.
Strategically, we made continued progress in strengthening our company. In addition to integrating Ennis-Flint, which we acquired in December 2020 and formed PPG’s traffic solutions strategic business unit, we welcomed and began integrating the companies acquired in 2021, including VersaFlex, Cetelon, Wörwag and Tikkurila. These five acquisitions added $1.7 billion of annualized revenue, expanded our sustainable product offerings and moved us into new markets.
We generated $1.6 billion of cash flow from operations, and deployed cash of about $2.3 billion on acquisitions and share repurchases. We also further optimized our cost structure in 2021, achieving about $135 million in cost savings.
We continue to have excellent financial flexibility with cash and short-term investments of about $1.1 billion at year-end.
The success of our team’s work throughout the year has enabled us to continue to reward our shareholders by extending our consecutive annual dividend payments to over 120 years, including raising our annual dividend payout for the 50th successive year. We’re among a very small number of companies that have achieved these milestones. #PPGProud.
Together, as One PPG, we remained steadfast in our commitment to launch innovative products and sustainable solutions in 2021. One example is our battery fire protection coating that protects electric automobiles from fire, improving passenger safety. This product, along with others from PPG, was recognized for its innovation with a 2021 R&D® 100 Award. Another example, PPG ERGOLUXTM Eco Powder Coatings contains up to 14% recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET). These innovative products, among many others, are helping to drive our customers’ success by providing new solutions in the market.
Throughout 2021, we took actions to bolster our Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) commitments. We appointed our first Vice President of Global Sustainability; established a framework of Board governance of our ESG efforts; integrated the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) Framework into our strategic planning process; and established groundwork to set Science- Based Targets aligned with the Paris Agreement.
We were pleased that Michael Nally, CEO, Generate Biomedicines, Inc. and CEO-Partner, Flagship Pioneering, and Guillermo Novo, chairman and CEO, Ashland Global Holdings Inc., were elected to join the PPG Board of Directors. On behalf of the entire board of directors, I would also like to recognize John Faraci, who joined the PPG Board in 2012 and will be stepping down at the April 2022 Annual Meeting of Shareholders. I want to thank John personally for his dedication to PPG and his continuous insight on how we can continue to evolve and grow. We wish him well in all of his future endeavors.
in reported net sales
adjusted earnings per diluted share
organic sales growth from higher sales volumes and selling prices
“It starts with me” is an important statement that I’ve been sharing with the PPG leadership team. I believe every employee owns and shapes the culture of our company. We use The PPG Way, a set of behaviors, to guide us. It includes goals such as “we do better today, than yesterday – every day,” and “we make it happen.” These are more than just words. They define who we are and what we want to be.
We remain focused on creating an engaged workplace for everyone, where employees bring their unique ideas, backgrounds, and true selves to work every day. We believe that diverse teams perform better.... period. We released our inaugural Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Report in March, sharing our progress and our focus moving forward. This is another important step in our journey.
In addition, I want to recognize the many PPG people who supported the communities in which we live and operate. Last year, PPG and the PPG Foundation outlined a commitment to invest $20 million by 2025 to address systemic racism and advance racial equity in the U.S. by funding educational pathways for Black communities and people of color.
Employees around the world also continued our signature COLORFUL COMMUNITIES® program, conducting more than 50 projects in 2021 that brought color and brightness to schools, community centers and other important places where we live and work. Since 2015, we have completed more than 385 projects in 42 countries.
As we look ahead, I remain very optimistic about the future growth and earnings capability of our company, and see many catalysts to return to prior peak operating margins with opportunities to exceed them over time. This includes:
I want to thank you for your continued interest and investment in PPG. In 2022, we look forward to continuing to drive and fulfill our purpose - to protect and beautify the world.
Michael H. McGarry
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer