Clariant’s strategy reaps profitable 2013

Specialty chemicals company Clariant announced that its 2013 full-year sales from continuing operations increased by 4% in local currencies, from CHF 6.076 billion compared to CHF 6.038 billion in full-year 2012, and 1% in Swiss francs. The 4% organic sales growth was almost entirely driven by higher volumes.

Clariant posted strong growth of 16% in local currencies in Latin America. Sales in Asia increased 3% in local currencies on the back of a 10% sales growth in the key China market. In North America a recovery of industrial demand and favorable weather conditions led to 6% higher sales in local currencies. In Europe, a stable performance in Germany, double-digit growth in Eastern Europe and a slight recovery in the southern European countries resulted in 2% higher sales in local currencies. Sales in the Middle East & Africa region were 14% lower year-on-year in local currencies, mainly due to a softer Catalysts business and lower sales in the Water Treatment and Oil & Mining Services businesses.

In an overall challenging business climate, all Business Areas, except that of Catalysis & Energy, achieved sales growth in the low to high single-digit range. In Care Chemicals both Consumer Care and Industrial Applications posted solid growth. The sales improvement in Natural Resources was chiefly based on strength in Oil Services and Refinery Services. Sales growth in the Plastics & Coatings Business Area was led by a mid single-digit increase in the Pigments business, while the other businesses, Additives and Masterbatches, grew at a more moderate pace. Catalysis & Energy was 2% lower due to a softer change-out cycle in the Petrochemicals industry and some project delays in Asia.

Full-year operating cash flow reached CHF 301 million compared to CHF 468 million in 2012. As expected, a strong cash flow generation in the second half-year reversed the cash outflow recorded in the first six months of 2013.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, Clariant reported 8% sales growth in local currencies. This was mainly due to 7% higher volumes while sales prices added 1% and raw materials remained at the previous year’s level. In Swiss francs, sales were 4% higher, at CHF 1.563 billion, compared to CHF 1.509 billion a year ago. All Business Areas recorded strong sales growth in the fourth quarter/ At the regional level, Asia/Pacific, Latin America and North America achieved double-digit growth in local currencies. EMEA was flat with sales in Europe recovering from the trough levels observed in the year-ago period, offset by ongoing weakness in Middle East & Africa.

To refocus growth areas in its businesses, Clariant has divested its five businesses Textile Chemicals, Paper Specialties, Emulsions, Detergents & Intermediates and Leather Services. With the closing on 30 September 2013, Clariant sold its Textile Chemicals, Paper Specialties and Emulsions businesses to SK Capital, a US-based investment firm. On 15 October 2013, the disposal of Detergents & Intermediates to International Chemical Investors Group (ICIG), a privately owned industrial holding company focusing on mid-sized chemicals and pharmaceutical businesses, was announced and closed effective as of 1 January 2014. The divestment of the Leather Services business to Stahl was announced on 30 October 2013 and is expected to close in the next few months, subject to regulatory approval. Clariant will hold a 23% stake in the combined entity. Hence, all five businesses have been reported as “discontinued operations”.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, discontinued operations generated sales of CHF 142 million compared to CHF 427 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, and a net result of CHF –5 million compared to an income of CHF 11 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.

For 2014, Clariant expects an ongoing challenging business environment. The economic environment in the emerging markets is expected to remain favourable but volatile while moderate growth should continue in the advanced economies, in particular in the US, said Clairiant, which will focus on profitably growing the four Business Areas and on cost efficiency.

As CEO Hariolf Kottmann said, Clariant is now a more profitable, less cyclical and well-balanced specialty chemicals player.


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