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Clariant Pigments & Additives Division grow by 7%
Jul '08
Clariant, a world leader in specialty chemicals, today announced a 4% increase in sales in local currency for the first half of 2008 equivalent to a decrease of 2% in CHF as a result of strong adverse currency effects. Total sales amounted to CHF 4.233 billion.

The dynamics in the raw material markets as well as supply shortages of some chemical feed-stock have led to an 11% increase in raw material costs. At the same time, Clariant's 'price over volume' approach in all divisions led to a 5% price increase that compensated for the raw material cost hike. While the reported gross margin remained stable at 29.7% (29.9% in H1 2007), it has improved on a year on year basis for four quarters in a row despite the steep increase in raw material costs in the same period. This led to an improvement of 0.5 percentage points compared to full-year 2007 gross margin.

Operating income before exceptional amounted to CHF 310 million. On the back of a decline in Sales, General and Administrative (SG&A) costs to 20.6% from 20.9% the operating margin improved to 7.3% from last year's 6.8%. Net income rose to CHF 92 million from CHF 73 mil-lion year on year. The results were strongly affected by adverse currency dynamics that ac-counted for a negative impact of CHF 59 million on operating income, translating into 1.4% of sales, and an additional CHF 48 million on the net income line.

The usually low cash flow in the first half of the year reached CHF 27 million from CHF 54 million mainly driven by inventory build up. The supply shortage of some basic chemical feedstock in particular from China has forced Clariant to increase safety stock levels in order to secure customer service. However the cash flow development showed an increasing momentum during the first half.

With regards to its financial structure, Clariant has taken a further step towards optimizing the maturity profile. The company launched a German Certificate of Indebtedness (“Schuldschein-darlehen”) in July amounting to EUR 100 million with favorable terms despite the difficult credit market environment.

Strategic moves in Masterbatches and Functional Chemicals strengthen Clariant businesses with strong market positions
As recently announced, Clariant has acquired Rite Systems, Inc. and Ricon Colors Inc., leading US masterbatches suppliers with both liquid and solid masterbatches technology.

The acquisitions substantially strengthen Clariant's Masterbatches' market position in North America, a region offering profitable growth opportunities and a technologically demanding customer base, particularly in the packaging and consumer goods market segments.

The excellent knowledge of Rite Systems in the field of liquid masterbatches is an ideal addition to Clariant's current capabilities in this segment and will allow Clariant to leverage this new competence into other regions where Clariant enjoys strong market positions such as Europe, Asia and Latin America.

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