WESEL, Germany - The specialty chemicals Group ALTANA recorded a slight decline in sales and earnings for the business year 2008. “As of the fourth quarter of 2008, the far-reaching economic crisis has also had a significantly negative impact on our business,” stated Matthias L. Wolfgruber, CEO of ALTANA AG, at the company’s press conference in Wesel, Germany.
In the business year 2008, ALTANA achieved sales of EUR 1,341.7 million, which is about 3 percent, or EUR 38 million, less than in 2007. Adjusted for negative exchange rate effects as well as minor positive acquisition and divestment effects, the operating sales decrease was 2 percent. Sales diminished in all regions. With sales at EUR 664.8 million, corresponding to nearly half of the company’s total sales, Europe reported a decrease of 2 percent. In the Americas, sales were down by 7 percent; adjusted for exchange rate effects, however, the decrease was only 3 percent, with sales at EUR 305.9 million. At EUR 325.7 million, corresponding to a decrease of 1 percent, sales in Asia almost reached the prior-year level. The development in this region was burdened by the higher-than-average sales decrease in China (- 6 percent), primarily in the fourth quarter of 2008.
The BYK Additives & Instruments division was able to increase sales in 2008 by 1 percent from EUR 445.1 million to EUR 450.5 million. EBITDA amounted to EUR 127.6 million, which is a decrease of 4 percent compared to the prior year (EUR 132.6 million). The EBITDA margin was 28.3 percent, following 29.8 percent in 2007.
ECKART Effect Pigments sales fell by 3 percent to EUR 350.7 million. In the previous year sales had been EUR 362.9 million. EBITDA went down to EUR 67.2 million (previous year: EUR 79.7 million); this corresponds to an EBITDA margin of 19.2 percent after 22.0 percent in 2007.
Sales of ELANTAS Electrical Insulation dropped 7 percent, from EUR 350.8 million in 2007 to EUR 326.5 million in 2008. EBITDA decreased by 6 percent to EUR 49.7 million following EUR 53.1 million in the prior year. At 15.2 percent, the EBITDA margin increased slightly on the prior-year level (15.1 percent).
The ACTEGA Coatings & Sealants division achieved sales of EUR 214.0 million in 2008, corresponding to a decrease of 3 percent on the prior year (EUR 221.6 million). EBITDA went down by 8 percent, from EUR 26.7 million to EUR 24.5 million. The EBITDA margin diminished from 12 percent to 11.4 percent in 2008.
The Management and Supervisory Boards will propose a dividend of 10 cent per share. At 13 percent, the payout ratio would be significantly lower than that of the previous year (33 percent), but the company would strengthen its financial stability.
ALTANA expects a difficult market environment for the current business year. The company had already prepared itself for this situation in the late summer of 2008 with a set of measures to improve efficiency and cut costs. The first weeks of the business year 2009 confirm the negative trend. However, the company still foresees good growth prospects for its markets in the medium and long term. Against the background of the continuing uncertainty on the worldwide markets, however, ALTANA cannot provide a concrete outlook for the current business year.