MUTTENZ, Switzerland – Specialty chemicals company Clariant announced first quarter 2018 sales of CHF 1.722 billion compared to CHF 1.602 billion in the first quarter of 2017. This corresponds to 7% growth in local currency as well as in Swiss francs. All business areas contributed to this sales growth, with particular strength in Catalysis and Care Chemicals. Organic sales rose by 5% in local currency driven by higher volumes and supported by a positive pricing effect.
All geographic regions contributed to the progress in the first quarter. Growth in local currency was most pronounced in Asia, at 15%, driven by a substantial expansion in China, while sales in Latin America rose by 11%, a result of the recovering macroeconomic environment. Sales in North America advanced by 5% and in the Middle East & Africa by 4% in local currency. Europe grew by a solid 2% despite a very strong comparable base.
In Care Chemicals and Catalysis, the excellent sales expansion continued. Sales in Care Chemicals rose by 9% in local currency mainly supported by Consumer Care and Aviation. Catalysis sales advanced by a vigorous 36% in local currency with excellent organic sales growth of 19%.
Natural Resources sales grew by 2% in local currency amid the progressing oil market recovery. Plastics & Coatings delivered another 2% local currency growth against a strong comparable base. All three business units contributed to the advancement.
EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) before exceptional items rose by 7% in Swiss francs and reached CHF 268 million compared to CHF 250 million in the previous year. The upswings particularly in Catalysis but also in Care Chemicals as well as the strong performance in Plastics & Coatings led to the profitability enhancement.
The corresponding EBITDA margin before exceptional items was 15.6%, which mirrors the previous year’s high level.
Clariant expects the good economic environment in mature markets, which represent a high comparable base, to continue. Emerging markets are expected to be supportive, with Latin America showing signs of a recovery.
For 2018, Clariant is confident to be able to achieve growth in local currency, as well as progress 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.