Swiss speciality chemicals maker Clariant today announced first quarter 2018 sales of CHF 1.722 billion (($1.75 billion)) compared to CHF 1.602 billion in the first quarter of 2017. This corresponds to 7 per cent 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 per cent 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 % growth, both in sales and profitability”, said CEO Hariolf Kottmann. “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.”
According to the release issued by the company, all geographic regions contributed to the progression in the first quarter. Growth in local currency was most pronounced in Asia at 15 % driven by a substantial expansion in China while sales in Latin America rose by 11 % as a result of the recovering macroeconomic environment. Sales in North America advanced by 5 % and in the Middle East & Africa by 4 % in local currency. Europe grew by a solid 2 % despite a very strong comparable base.
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 % to 19 % and a return on invested capital (ROIC) above the peer group average.