MUTTENZ, Switzerland – Specialty chemicals company Clariant announced sales of CHF 1.923 billion in the third quarter of 2012, up 3 percent compared to the previous-year period. In local currencies, sales were 3 percent lower.

At group level, volumes decreased 5 percent year-on-year. Although volume reductions affected most businesses, the Catalysis & Energy, Functional Materials, Industrial & Consumer Specialties, and Masterbatches Business Units performed solidly and are on track to achieve their full-year targets. The Oil & Mining Services Business Unit continued to grow in local currencies. Weakness in the electronics, coatings and increasingly in the automotive industries affected the Additives and Pigments Business Units. Leather Services, Textile Chemicals and Paper Specialties recovered from the low previous-year levels and posted robust single-digit sales growth in local currencies.

At 26.3 percent, the gross margin was higher than the previous year’s 26.1 percent. Sales prices decreased sequentially by 1 percent, but raw material costs also weakened significantly. Year-on-year, prices increased by 2 percent, while raw material costs decreased by 1 percent. The positive contribution from pricing was partially offset by unabsorbed production costs due to lower volumes and an unfavorable product mix development. In addition, the contribution from new production capacities for battery materials and flame retardants was much lower than expected.

The company remains committed to its 2015 mid-term targets despite a softening of the global economy and the short-term impact from a massive volume reduction in Europe. Confidence in achieving those targets is based on the growth and performance of the core business units, a disciplined pricing approach, progress in the integration of Süd-Chemie, further cost benefits, and successful portfolio management.

For the full-year 2012, Clariant expects flat sales growth in local currencies and an EBITDA margin before exceptionals slightly ahead of the level after nine months.