Clariant announced first quarter 2018 sales of CHF 1.722 billion compared to CHF 1.602 billion in the first quarter of 2017. This corresponds to seven percent growth in local currency as well as in Swiss francs. All Business Areas contributed to this sales growth, with particular strength in Catalysis and Care Chemicals. Organic sales rose by 5 percent in local currency driven by higher volumes and supported by a positive pricing effect.
“In the first three months of 2018, Clariant delivered very good 7 percent growth, both in sales and profitability,” CEO Hariolf Kottmann said. “All our Business Areas contributed to this progress which was mainly driven by volumes. The turnaround of the Catalysis business has been confirmed and also the Oil & Mining Services business is showing signs of improvement, while Care Chemicals continued its excellent development and Plastics & Coatings is performing in line with expectations. For 2018, we are on track to achieve our targets.”
All geographic regions contributed to the progression in the first quarter. Growth in local currency was most pronounced in Asia at 15 percent driven by a substantial expansion in China while sales in Latin America rose by 11 percent as a result of the recovering macroeconomic environment. Sales in North America advanced by five percent and in the Middle East & Africa by 4 percent in local currency. Europe grew by two percent despite a very strong comparable base.
In Care Chemicals and Catalysis, the excellent sales expansion continued. Sales in Care Chemicals rose by nine percent in local currency mainly supported by Consumer Care and Aviation. Catalysis sales advanced by a vigorous 36 percent in local currency with excellent organic sales growth of 19 percent.
Natural Resources sales grew by two percent in local currency amid the progressing oil market recovery. Plastics & Coatings delivered another two percent local currency growth against a strong comparable base. All three Business Units contributed to the advancement.
EBITDA before exceptional items rose by seven percent in Swiss francs and reached CHF 268 million compared to CHF 250 million in the previous year. The upswings particularly in Catalysis but also in Care Chemicals as well as the strong performance in Plastics & Coatings led to the profitability enhancement.
The corresponding EBITDA margin before exceptional items was 15.6 percent which mirrors the previous year’s high level.
Clariant expects the good economic environment in mature markets, which represent a high comparable base, to continue. Emerging markets are expected to be supportive with Latin America showing signs of a recovery.
For 2018, Clariant is confident to be able to achieve growth in local currency, as well as progression in operating cash flow, absolute EBITDA and EBITDA margin before exceptional items.
Clariant confirms its mid-term target of reaching a position in the top tier of the specialty chemicals industry. This corresponds to an EBITDA margin before exceptional items in the range of 16 percent to 19 percent and a return on invested capital (ROIC) above the peer group average.