WESEL, Germany – The specialty chemicals group ALTANA continued on its growth course in the 2013 business year. Sales increased by four percent to €1,765 million in year-to-year terms.
"With the acquisition of Rockwood's rheology business, in particular, we reached another important milestone on our path for profitable growth," said Dr. Matthias L. Wolfgruber, CEO of ALTANA AG. "We want to consistently continue on our growth course in the future."
Acquisitions contributed three percent to the growth in sales. Negative exchange rate effects curtailed growth by two percent. Adjusted for these effects, operating sales growth was three percent, particularly due to higher sales volumes.
The BYK Additives & Instruments division achieved the highest sales growth in 2013. Compared to the previous year, sales rose by 12 percent to €691 million. Just under half of the increase resulted from the integration of Rockwood's rheology activities, which is proceeding to plan. As of October 1, 2013, ALTANA acquired the rheology business of the U.S. American Rockwood Group, thereby considerably strengthening BYK's position in this product area. Positive sales effects were also provided by the acquisition of the wax additives business in the United States at the end of 2012. Adjusted for acquisition and exchange rate effects, operating sales rose by seven percent.
The ECKART Effect Pigments division generated sales of €335 million in 2013. The slight decrease of two percent compared to the previous year primarily resulted from exchange rate changes. ECKART managed to keep its operating sales at the previous year's level.
Sales in the ELANTAS Electrical Insulation division rose by one percent to €415 million in the 2013 business year. Adjusted for negative exchange rate effects, sales rose by three percent, primarily driven by higher sales volumes.
Sales in the ACTEGA Coatings & Sealants division fell by three percent to €325 million. Slightly positive effects from acquisitions almost equaled burdens from exchange rate changes. As a result, operating sales also decreased by three percent.
In terms of regions, ALTANA achieved the highest growth rates in 2013 in Asia, primarily driven by increased demand in China, where sales rose by 14 percent. Sales in the entire Asian region rose by seven percent. The company's sales performance in the Americas was positively influenced by company acquisitions. In North and South America, ALTANA achieved total sales growth of six percent. Sales in the core region Europe and ALTANA's domestic market of Germany were down by one percent respectively. In the course of the year, however, demand steadily increased in many European countries; in the last quarter of the 2013, business year operating sales increased compared to the same period of the previous year.
In 2013, ALTANA's research and development expenses rose by seven percent to €109 million. As a result, the share of sales invested in R&D grew to 6.2 percent and was once again higher than in the previous year (6.0 percent). ALTANA invested €94 million in property, plant and equipment and intangible assets. One of the investment priorities was the expansion of U.S. production capacities in the BYK division.
ALTANA anticipates the general economic climate to improve slightly in 2014. This development should be driven, in particular, by the recovery of the European markets. Against this backdrop, the group expects sales growth, adjusted for acquisition and exchange rate effects, in the low- to medium-single-digit percentage range. As the acquired Rockwood rheology business and the acquisitions implemented by the ACTEGA division will be consolidated for the first time for a whole year, ALTANA anticipates an increase in sales in the high-single-digit percentage range for the current business year. The company's return on sales is expected to be similar to that of 2013.