Organic growth of 2% was entirely due to higher sales volumes. Similar to the first quarter of this year, the negative currency effect of 1% was due to a marked weakness of the Brazilian real, the Japanese yen and the Indian rupee against the Swiss franc.
Business conditions did not alter significantly between the first and second quarter of the current year. The Care Chemicals Business Area grew 8% in local currencies on the back of strong growth in all segments.
Natural Resources was 6% higher, with strong growth in the Oil Services business overcompensating for ongoing weakness in the structurally challenged Water Treatment business.
In Catalysis & Energy, business activity in Catalysts picked-up from the first into the second quarter, following the normal seasonal pattern with increasing sales quarter-by-quarter as the year progresses. Despite this positive development Catalysts did not reach the exceptional high sales recorded in the previous year. Sales in the Plastics & Coatings Business Area remained flat.
From a regional point of view, Clariant achieved mid-teen sales growth in Latin America, while Asia/Pacific was temporarily weak at the previous-year level and Europe and North America were flat to marginally higher. Compared to the first quarter, the rate of expansion in North America has slowed. Middle East & Africa continued on a low level given a weak Water Treatment business and a high comparable basis in Catalysts.
The gross margin was on par with the 29.3% recorded in the second quarter of 2012. Higher costs for underutilized production capacities were offset by a favorable sales price trend. Compared to the second quarter of 2012, sales prices were flat while raw material costs fell 2%, leaving the Group with a positive contribution to the gross margin. Compared to the first quarter of 2013, sales prices were flat and raw material costs were 2% lower.
EBITDA before exceptional items from continuing operations rose 6% in local currencies and by the same percentage in Swiss francs year-on-year to CHF 211 million, compared to CHF 200 million a year ago and CHF 209 million in the first quarter of 2013. The increase was mainly due to higher sales as well as slightly lower SG&A costs. The respective EBITDA margin stood at 13.7%, compared to 13.1% for continuing operations in the previous-year period.
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