WESEL, Germany - The specialty chemicals group ALTANA AG was able to further increase sales and operating earnings over the first six months of the current business year. Compared to the strong first half of 2011, ALTANA's sales rose by five percent, up from EUR 840.3 million to EUR 886.4 million. Adjusted for positive exchange rate as well as acquisition effects, sales came close to the prior-year level. Slightly declining volumes were offset by price increases and product-mix effects. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) improved by four percent to EUR 179.6 million, compared to EUR 172.9 million in the prior-year period. At 20.3 percent, the EBITDA margin remained at a similarly high level as in the first six months of 2011 (20.6 percent). At EUR 127.1 million, earnings before taxes (EBT) also remained at the healthy prior-year level (EUR 127.0 million).
The BYK Additives & Instruments division increased sales by four percent to EUR 326.0 million in the first six months of 2012, up from EUR 314.4 million in the prior-year period. The ECKART Effect Pigments division recorded a decline in sales by three percent, with sales of EUR 179.1 million compared to prior-year revenues of EUR 184.6 million. Sales of the ELANTAS Electrical Insulation division rose by four percent to EUR 210.7 million up from EUR 203.3 million in the first half of 2011. With a jump in sales of 24 percent, primarily due to acquisitions, sales in the ACTEGA Coatings & Sealants division increased significantly. The division's sales came in at EUR 170.6 million, following EUR 138.0 million in the prior year.
The regional sales development within the ALTANA Group was rather heterogeneous. Sales in North and South America were significantly increased by 11 percent compared to the first six months of 2011. This was attributable to the dynamic regional rise in demand as well as to positive exchange rate effects. The increase in sales of four percent in Europe resulted from acquisition effects, while the economic environment increasingly burdened the development of the company's business. In Asia, the hitherto sluggish development of demand led to a purely exchange-rate-driven increase in sales of three percent.
"ALTANA is looking back on quite a successful first half of 2012. Despite the difficult overall economic conditions, we were able to further increase sales and EBITDA compared to the strong prior-year figures," said Dr. Matthias L. Wolfgruber, CEO of ALTANA AG. "Based on our clear focus on innovative specialties and our flexible business model, we are confident that we remain able to operate successfully even under ongoing uncertain and volatile market conditions."
As a result of the increased global economic risks, ALTANA anticipates a further moderation of demand for the second half of the current business year. Nevertheless, compared to the previous year, the company expects a moderate growth in sales for 2012 as a whole.