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Sales grow 8% at Clariant in 2012
Feb '13
Clariant, a world leader in specialty chemicals, announced full-year sales 2012 from continuing operations of CHF 6.038 billion compared to CHF 5.571 billion in the previous-year period. This corresponds to an increase of 8% in local currencies and in Swiss francs. The 8% increase was driven by the acquisition of Süd-Chemie, while organic growth was flat with 2% higher prices offsetting lower volumes.

Sales development in 2012 was heterogeneous across all regions and businesses. From a regional perspective, all regions except Europe grew double-digit. Europe declined 2% while growth dynamics in Asia/Pacific remained robust during the year. The pronounced weakness in southern Europe has spread across the continent in the second half-year.

However, with roughly two thirds of sales generated outside of Europe, the impact of the European crisis on Clariant was offset by growth in the other regions. In the fourth quarter no further deterioration of the business environment from third quarter levels has been observed.

In an overall demanding market environment, there was strength in the Catalysis & Energy and Oil & Mining Services Business Units (BU), both growing double-digit in a year-on-year comparison. Industrial & Consumer Specialties and Functional Materials held up well due to their limited exposure to the economic cycle. While Masterbatches managed to resist the weakness in Europe, the Pigments and Additives BUs were impacted by the severe downturn in some end-markets – mainly in Coatings, Printing and Electronics – and primarily in Europe.

At 28.9%, the gross margin improved from 27.5% recorded in the previous year. The improvement was the result of a positive volume/mix effect and a stringent margin management which over-compensated higher costs for the underutilization of production capacities. Year-on-year, prices increased by 2% while raw material costs remained stable.

The EBITDA before exceptional items from continuing operations was 4% lower yearon-year, contracting to CHF 802 million from CHF 835 million. EBITDA margin before exceptionals stood at 13.3% compared to 15.0% for the continuing operations in the previous-year period.

On the EBITDA line, exceptional items including restructuring and impairment costs were lower at CHF 127 million versus CHF 192 million in full-year 2011 and were mostly related to the integration of Süd Chemie. Net result from continuing operations was 4% lower at CHF 211 million compared to CHF 220 million in the same period one year ago. Lower taxes could not fully offset the impact from a lower operating income and somewhat higher financing costs.

Full-year operating cash flow was strong with CHF 468 million compared to CHF 314 million one year ago, following the normal seasonality with a build-up in inventories in the first half of the year followed by a reduction in inventories and therefore cash flow generation in the second half-year.

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