MUTTENZ, Switzerland – Specialty chemicals company Clariant announced sales for the first half of 2017 of CHF 3.132 billion compared to CHF 2.899 billion in 2016. This corresponds to 9% growth in local currency driven by double-digit expansion in Catalysis and Natural Resources. Organic growth amounted to 5%, driven by higher volumes.
Growth was most pronounced in Europe, Asia and North America. Sales in Europe rose by 8% while the 11% advance in Asia was supported by the strong sales development in China. Sales in North America increased by 14%. Latin American sales were 3% lower against a strong comparable base and also reflect the macroeconomic environment, which remains challenging.
Care Chemicals and Catalysis both reported strong expansion. Sales in Care Chemicals rose by 8% in local currency helped in particular by the Industrial Application business. Catalysis sales improved by 11%, supported by organic growth of 6%.
Natural Resources sales soared by 19%, lifted mainly by the Kel-Tech and X-Chem acquisitions in North America in 2016. Underlying sales in Natural Resources improved likewise, driven by the solid growth in Functional Minerals. In Plastics & Coatings, sales grew by 4% with continuing strong sales expansion in Additives and in China.
EBITDA before exceptional items increased by 9% in Swiss francs and reached CHF 482 million, compared to CHF 444 million in the previous year. The absolute profitability improvement was mainly attributable to the positive developments in Catalysis and Plastics & Coatings.
The corresponding 15.4% EBITDA margin before exceptional items increased due to the continued realization of benefits from the differentiated steering in Plastics & Coatings and the improvement in Catalysis, partly supported by the full consolidation of the Süd-Chemie India Pvt Ltd. joint venture.
Net income soared by 20% in Swiss francs to CHF 153 million from CHF 128 million in the previous year. This expansion was supported by the improvement in absolute EBITDA before exceptional items as well as lower finance costs.
In the second quarter of 2017, sales rose by 8% in local currency to CHF 1.530 billion. Underlying sales growth excluding acquisition effects and the full consolidation of the Süd-Chemie India Pvt Ltd. joint venture was 4% in local currency, driven by higher volumes.
On a regional level, sales growth was led by North America at 18% in local currency. Excluding acquisitions, sales in North America developed slightly positively. In Asia, sales in local currency grew by 10% with a continuing strong development in China. Sales in Europe grew by 5% and in the Middle East & Africa by 16% in local currency. Latin America was impacted by the weak economic environment and declined by 2% against a strong comparable base.
Sales in Care Chemicals grew by 8% in local currency driven by higher volumes. Catalysis sales grew by a strong 20%, 11% of which was organic. Natural Resources sales soared by 22% with organic growth of 5%. Plastics & Coatings improved by 1% despite a strong comparable base as the robust Additives sales offset a flattish development in Pigments.
EBITDA before exceptional items rose by 8% in Swiss francs to CHF 232 million primarily lifted by the strong contribution from Catalysis and Plastic & Coatings, which could more than offset the temporarily lower margins in Care Chemicals and Natural Resources. As a result, the EBITDA margin before exceptional items on Group level increased further to 15.2% from 15.1% in the previous year.
Clariant expects the uncertain environment, characterized by a high volatility in commodity prices, 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.
For 2017, in spite of a continued challenging economic environment, Clariant is confident to be able to achieve growth in local currency, as well as progression in operating cash flow, absolute EBITDA and EBITDA margin before exceptional items.
Clariant confirms its mid-term target of reaching a position in the top tier of the specialty chemicals industry. This corresponds to an EBITDA margin before exceptional items in the range of 16% to 19% and a return on invested capital (ROIC) above the peer group average.