MUTTENZ, Switzerland – Specialty chemicals company Clariant reported first-quarter 2013 sales from continuing operations of CHF 1.526 billion compared to CHF 1.513 billion in the previous-year period, an increase of 2 percent in local currencies and 1 percent in Swiss francs. Organic growth of 2 percent was primarily the result of higher volumes. A negative currency effect of 1 percent was mainly attributable to the double-digit percentage depreciation of the Brazilian real and the Japanese yen against the Swiss franc compared to the same period one year ago.
The business environment remained basically unchanged compared to the final quarter of 2012. As in the previous quarter, sales trends were therefore not uniform across regions and businesses. At the regional level, Latin America exhibited the highest growth with a 10 percent increase in local currency sales. Year-on-year, sales in Asia-Pacific and EMEA were unchanged, with the latter posting 2 percent growth in Europe and a 10 percent sales decline in Middle East & Africa. Sales in North America grew 5 percent.
As expected, the Care Chemicals and Natural Resources Business areas continued to grow, with local currency sales increases of 13 percent and 4 percent respectively. Care Chemicals benefitted from the low sensitivity of the consumer-oriented businesses to the general economic cycle and favorable weather conditions for its European and North American de-icing business. In 2013, the de-icing season extended into late March on both sides of the Atlantic. Natural Resources was driven by double-digit local currency sales growth in Oil & Mining Services while the Functional Minerals business was weak, recording a mid-single-digit decline in local currencies year-on-year. Catalysis & Energy experienced a single-digit sales decline due to a slow start in Syngas and Specialty Catalyst, reflecting the usual high volatility in the first two quarters of the year. Plastics & Coatings, on the other hand, stabilized at low levels, with the slightly lower sales figures mainly attributable to the early Easter break and therefore fewer billing days this year compared to the previous-year period.
For 2013, Clariant expects a persisting soft macroeconomic environment, characterized by high volatility. While solid growth in the emerging markets is most likely, no significant growth impulses are expected from the European and North American economies.
In this scenario, Clariant will focus on growing the seven core businesses and on continuous cost discipline. This will lead to further top-line growth in local currencies and improved profitability in 2013.