MUTTENZ, Switzerland – Specialty chemicals company Clariant announced first quarter 2014 sales from continuing operations of CHF 1.492 billion compared to CHF 1.526 billion in the first quarter of 2013. This corresponds to an increase of 5% in local currencies. The 5% organic sales growth was driven by 4% higher volumes and an increase in prices of 1%.
Good sales growth in local currencies was strongly impacted by unfavorable currency developments in the emerging markets as well as in North America, resulting in a sales growth of –2% in Swiss francs, mainly due to the year-on-year weakness of the Brazilian real, Indian rupee, Japanese yen and U.S. dollar.
Clariant posted strong local currency sales growth of 15% in Latin America. Sales in Asia-Pacific increased 11% in local currencies, driven by 33% higher sales in both China and India. In the Middle East and Africa region, sales were 10% higher year-on-year in local currencies as all business areas recorded growth in the region. In North America, a strong de-icing season offset the winter-related softness in other businesses, leading to 1% sales growth in local currencies. Europe was 1% lower due to unfavorable weather conditions, which particularly impacted Northern and Central Europe. Southern Europe, on the other hand, showed growth from a low base.
All business areas with the exception of Care Chemicals achieved mid to high single-digit sales growth. Care Chemicals was flat year-on-year, due to a virtually non-existent de-icing season in Europe. Excluding de-icing, growth in Care Chemicals was on a par with the other business areas. Catalysis & Energy opened the year on a positive note, confirming a expected recovery in 2014. Natural Resources achieved good growth in both the Oil & Mining Services and Functional Minerals businesses. In the Plastics & Coatings business area, solid growth was accomplished in all areas, particularly in Pigments.
“Clariant had a promising start to the year with good volume growth and an increase in operating profitability,” said CEO Hariolf Kottmann. “Overall, our businesses performed well in an improving but still mixed economic environment. The picture has been somewhat clouded by unfavorable currency developments, a mild winter in Europe and an impairment charge related to the divestment of the ASK Chemicals joint venture. However, after the first three months, Clariant is well on course to meet its full-year targets.”