MONHEIM, Germany - In the first six months of 2009, Cognis' sales volumes declined by 15.8 percent compared with the same period in 2008. Europe, especially Germany and France, suffered most from these volume declines. The total net external sales figure of EUR 1,302 million represented a fall of 15.1 percent compared to the first half of 2008. On an organic basis (excluding foreign currency effects and the effects of acquisitions and divestments), sales fell by 15.6 percent. However, Cognis experienced a stabilization of its worldwide businesses in the second quarter. Global sales volumes rose by 3.8 percent in the second quarter compared to the first quarter of 2009. This was mainly driven by a pick up in growth in Asia-Pacific as well as Central and South America, whereas the market environment in Europe remained difficult.
Cognis’ operating result (Adjusted EBITDA) fell by 4.7 percent to EUR 168 million compared to the same period in 2008. The second-quarter operating result of EUR 95 million was up EUR 22.1 million compared to the first quarter of EUR 73 million. The negative impact of decreased volumes and continuous price pressure was mainly compensated by lower raw material cost and the results of Cognis’ global cost optimization program, which already contributed EUR 47 million in the first half of 2009.
Return on sales (Adjusted EBITDA as a percentage of sales) was 12.9 percent for the first half of 2009. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) decreased by EUR 25 million to EUR 78 million, mainly impacted by lower operating results and higher exceptional items, mainly restructuring charges, which summed up to EUR 26 million. This resulted in a net loss including exceptional items of EUR 20 million for the period (net profit without exceptional items was EUR 4 million).
Cognis CEO Antonio Trius commented, “We are now benefiting from our comprehensive cost reduction program and in the light of the challenging economic environment this year, we are satisfied with what we have achieved so far. Both sales volumes and operating results are moving in an upward direction compared to the first quarter of 2009, and our wellness and sustainability-based strategy remains a strong driver of growth for our business.”
Looking forward, Trius said, “We had a good start into the third quarter, but the trading environment remains highly uncertain and volatile. We will continue our efforts to make further cost savings and maintain our healthy cash position.”