WESEL, Germany - The specialty chemicals group ALTANA recorded considerable declines in sales and earnings in the business year 2009.
“Despite our comparatively robust setup, the global economic crisis has taken a toll on ALTANA,” said Matthias L. Wolfgruber, CEO of ALTANA AG. “Nevertheless, 2009 was not a lost year for us. We were able to further consolidate our position in the worldwide specialty chemicals markets. We have used 2009 to operate even more efficiently and to further optimize our structures, and we were drawn even closer together. These strengths, along with ALTANA’s role as technology leader and our attractive product portfolio, are the decisive factors to successfully continue our profitable growth course after the economic crisis is overcome,” said Wolfgruber.
Despite the pronounced upturn in business in the second half of 2009, ALTANA remained below the sales and earnings levels of 2008. Sales decreased by 12 percent from EUR 1,341.7 million to EUR 1,181.7 million. Adjusted for positive exchange rate as well as acquisition effects, the operating sales decrease was 15 percent. While sales in the first half of 2009 decreased nominally by 25 percent compared to the prior year, sales in the second half of the year were up by three percent on the prior-year figure, which had been burdened by the crisis as well. At EUR 555.1 million, the strongest decline in sales was reported in Europe, where sales were down by 17 percent. Sales in the American regions were down by 12 percent to EUR 267.7 million. While, at EUR 317.9 million, the Asian region also recorded a decrease in sales of two percent for the year as a whole, it showed the strongest recovery in the second half of 2009. However, it was not possible to completely compensate for the weak sales figures of the first six months of the business year. With regards to China alone, the 2009 sales figure increased by seven percent, from EUR 152.9 million to EUR 164.3 million.
Compared to the other divisions, the global economic crisis caused the most significant decrease in sales in the Effect Pigments division. In addition, the division’s recovery in the second half of 2009 started at a later point in time and was less dynamic. The sluggish development in ECKART’s important markets, particularly the automotive industry, had a negative effect. This is why ALTANA revised its earnings forecast for Effect Pigments downwards in the course of 2009.
The BYK Additives & Instruments division achieved sales of EUR 419.9 million in 2009 following EUR 450.5 million in 2008; this is a decrease of seven percent. The earnings losses resulting from the sales decline could largely be offset, so that the division’s EBITDA was only six percent down to EUR 119.9 million (prior year: EUR 127.6 million).
At EUR 282.3 million (prior year: 350.7 million), sales in the ECKART Effect Pigments division fell by about 20 percent. Despite positive effects from measures to cut costs, EBITDA also decreased significantly from EUR 67.2 million to EUR 27.4 million.
Sales of ELANTAS Electrical Insulation dropped by about 16 percent on the prior year and amounted to EUR 272.7 million in 2009, following EUR 326.5 million in 2008. Due to cost-cutting meausres and a reduced materials usage ratio, the division’s EBITDA rose to EUR 52.0 million following EUR 49.7 million in the prior year; this is an increase of five percent.
Sales of the ACTEGA Coatings & Sealants division remained the most stable, decreasing by only three percent to EUR 206.8 million, following EUR 214.0 million in 2008. The division’s EBITDA rose by 21 percent, from EUR 24.5 million to EUR 29.6 million.
Despite visible signs of a recovery of the global economy, ALTANA expects an environment that is still marked by high uncertainty. A stabilization of the economic recovery should give rise to a growing demand of the company’s products in 2010 and thus to an increase in sales and earnings compared to 2009. However, the company expects to return to the pre-crisis business level in 2011 at the earliest.