WESEL, Germany - The specialty chemicals group ALTANA AG concluded the business year 2009 with noticeably lower sales and earnings figures compared to the prior year. Despite a pronounced upturn in business in the second half of the year, sales declined to EUR 1,182 million, following EUR 1,342 million in 2008, which is a decrease of 12 percent. Adjusted for positive exchange rates as well as acquisition effects, the operating sales decrease was 15 percent.
Sales in all regions remained below the figures of the previous year; in some regions the losses were quite pronounced. At 17 percent, the highest decline was recorded in Europe, followed by North and South America with a drop of 12 percent. The Asian region was comparatively stable, with a sales decrease of only two percent for the full year. Here, ALTANA was able to achieve significant growth rates in the second half of 2009, particularly in China.
The BYK Additives & Instruments division achieved sales of EUR 420 million in 2009, corresponding to a decrease of about seven percent on the prior year. In the ECKART Effect Pigments division, sales dropped by 20 percent from EUR 351 million in 2008 to EUR 282 million in 2009. Sales in the ELANTAS Electrical Insulation division in 2009 amounted to EUR 273 million, a decrease of 16 percent compared to 2008 (EUR 327 million). ACTEGA Coatings & Sealants achieved sales of EUR 207 million in 2009, which is only slightly below the 2008 figure (EUR 214 million).
Preliminary earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in the business year 2009 decreased by 16 percent to EUR 204 million. At 17.3 percent (prior year: 18.1 percent), the EBITDA margin was down by only about one percentage point. This was mainly due to countermeasures taken to reduce costs and increase efficiency, which led to savings of about EUR 55 million in the past business year.
The highest sales decrease was in the Effect Pigments division. Here the recovery in the second half of 2009 also started at a later point in time and was less dynamic. The sluggish development in the division’s important target markets, particularly the automotive industry, had a negative effect.
Looking forward, Matthias L. Wolfgruber, CEO of ALTANA AG, said, “For 2010, we expect an improvement over the previous year. However, we anticipate a business year with great uncertainties.” Wolfgruber added that ALTANA would continue to emphasize and focus on cost efficiency and, at the same time, increase investments in growth drivers such as innovation and customer orientation. However, even with the hope for economic recover in 2010, Wolfgruber stated that ALTANA would need at least until 2011 to reach the same business level as before the global economic crisis.