MUTTENZ, Switzerland – Specialty chemicals company Clariant announced first-quarter 2017 sales of CHF 1.602 billion compared to CHF 1.478 billion in the first quarter of 2016. This corresponds to an increase of 9% in local currency and 8% in Swiss francs. The sales growth was driven by higher volumes across all business areas and increased by 3% due to acquisitions.
In the first quarter, local currency sales growth was strong in Europe at 12%, Asia at 11% and the Middle East and Africa at 7%, while North America grew by 11%, driven by acquisitions. The growth in Asia was supported by China and Southeast Asia. In Latin America, demand declined by 5% in local currency against a strong comparable base and as a result of the weaker economic environment, mainly in Brazil.
Care Chemicals and Plastics & Coatings continued their robust growth trends. Care Chemicals sales rose by 9% in local currency to CHF 440 million, supported by growth in both the Consumer Care and the Industrial Applications businesses. Sales in Plastics & Coatings increased by 6% in local currency to CHF 673 million with a particularly strong regional development in Europe.
Natural Resources sales grew by 17% in local currency and reached CHF 347 million, bolstered by acquisitions. In the difficult industry environment, the underlying Oil and Mining Services sales were slightly negative, but were helped by acquisitions. Functional Minerals continued its solid growth development. Sales in Catalysis were up by 2% in local currency to CHF 142 million with a soft demand recovery in the Asian and European markets.
“Clariant achieved a very good start into the year with good volume growth and higher profitability,” said CEO Hariolf Kottmann. “Our focus on local currency growth and profitability improvement is clearly reflected in these encouraging results. We are on a solid path towards achieving our sales expansion targets, a continued progression in absolute EBITDA and EBITDA margin before exceptional items as well as operating cash flow generation, in spite of what continues to be a challenging market environment in specific business areas.”
Clariant expects the uncertain environment, characterized by a high volatility in commodity prices and currencies, as well as political uncertainties, to continue. In emerging markets, the company anticipates the economic environment to remain challenging and volatile; it expects moderate growth in the United States, while growth in Europe is expected to remain stable.