WESEL, Germany - The specialty chemicals Group ALTANA has been affected by the worldwide economic crisis and has reported significant decreases in sales and earnings. In the first quarter of the business year 2009, sales fell by 30 percent to EUR 251.8 million, compared to EUR 357.6 million in the prior-year period. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) decreased by 71 percent from EUR 71.7 million in 2008 to EUR 20.8 million. As a consequence, the EBITDA margin was down to 8.3 percent and is therefore significantly lower than the prior-year figure of 20.1 percent. At EUR 0.4 million, following EUR 52.9 million in 2008, earnings before taxes (EBT) remained slightly positive despite the significant decrease in sales and EBITDA.
Sales in the BYK Additives & Instruments division fell by 34 percent from EUR 120.2 million in the first quarter of 2008 to EUR 79.0 million. The ECKART Effect Pigments division recorded a sales decrease of 39 percent to EUR 57.6 million from EUR 93.9 million in the prior year. At ELANTAS Electrical Insulation, sales dropped by around 27 percent to EUR 64.5 million, compared to EUR 88.1 million. In ACTEGA Coatings & Sealants division sales remained relatively stable, decreasing by about 8 percent from EUR 55.4 million in the prior year to EUR 50.7 million in the first quarter of 2009.
In the late summer 2008, ALTANA had already introduced a comprehensive program to improve efficiency and cut costs. The program comprises, among others, a reduction of personnel costs due to operational shutdown periods and short-time work, the postponement of investment measures, and a worldwide qualified hiring freeze. In total, the estimated savings potential for 2009 amounts to approximately EUR 50 million; more than EUR 10 million were realized in the first quarter of the current business year.
“Despite our broad positioning in the market, the worldwide economic crisis has also affected ALTANA,” stated Matthias L. Wolfgruber, CEO of ALTANA AG. “In such difficult times, we are in an advantageous position of having a solid financial structure.” The company’s present focus is on maintaining margins and cash flow as well as on a consistent and successful implementation of the set of measures to reduce costs, said Wolfgruber. He added that ALTANA’s business model was still intact. “We wish to emerge strengthened from this crisis, building on our innovative strength and market position.”
The general economic conditions for ALTANA are still influenced by high uncertainty. This is true for almost all customer industries and regions. Against the background of the company’s business performance in the first quarter of 2009 and the present order situation, the company expects the market environment to remain very difficult with a significantly declining sales and earnings development in comparison to 2008 for the business year 2009. Due to the high uncertainty in the economic environment, the company could not provide a concrete sales and earnings forecast.