WESEL, Germany - The specialty chemicals Group ALTANA AG increased sales and operating earnings in the first three quarters of 2008 compared to the same period last year. Sales grew by EUR 13.7 million, or 1 percent, to EUR 1,067.5 million. Adjusted for negative exchange rate effects of 3 percent and minor positive acquisition effects of 1 percent, the operating sales growth was 3 percent. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) developed disproportionately, climbing from EUR 192.1 million in the prior year’s period to EUR 213.1 million in the reporting period. This represents an increase of 11 percent. At 20 percent, the EBITDA margin is in the upper region of ALTANA‘s medium-term target range of 18 percent to 20 percent. In the previous year, the margin was 18.2 percent. It had been burdened, however, by the two-tier holding structure, which was maintained until mid-2007. Earnings before taxes (EBT) in the period under review totaled EUR 152.1 million, following EUR 183.9 million in the prior year. In 2007, the EBT included the income from the investment of the purchase price for ALTANA Pharma (EUR 55 million), which was distributed to the shareholders in May 2007.
“Despite the overall solid development of our business in the first nine months of 2008, ALTANA has noticed the weakening general business environment over the last weeks,” stated Matthias L. Wolfgruber, CEO of ALTANA AG. “We expect the negative business trend to continue in the next months. Over a short period of time, inventory effects and a slowdown in our value chain will, of course, have a significant impact. However, due to our concentration on the specialty chemicals business and our unchanged focus on innovation, we are confident that we will maintain our high profitability and continue to grow in the upcoming years.”