Clariant significantly increases growth and further improves profitability in 2017
Clariant, a world leader in speciality chemicals, has announced full year 2017 sales of CHF 6.377 billion compared to CHF 5.847 billion in 2016.
This corresponds to 9% growth in local currency driven by double-digit gains in Catalysis and Natural Resources. The strong organic growth amounted to 6%, driven by higher volume contributions by all Business Areas.
For the full year, sales growth in local currency was strongest in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Sales in Asia rose by 12%, lifted by a remarkable sales development in China, Southeast Asia and Japan. Sales growth in the Middle East and Africa was 15% and in Europe 7%.
Sales in North America also increased by 11% mainly driven by acquisitions. Latin American sales were flat, however, showing signs of improvement in the second half of the year in an ongoing challenging macroeconomic environment.
The improved sales performance for the full year resulted from growth in all Business Areas. Both Care Chemicals and Catalysis reported particularly strong expansion. Sales of Care Chemicals rose by 8% in local currency supported by vigorous Consumer Care and Industrial
Applications businesses. Catalysis sales improved by an excellent 13% with positive contributions from all Business Lines.
Natural Resources sales accelerated by 14%, mainly lifted by the Kel-Tech and X-Chem acquisitions in North America. Organic sales in Natural Resources grew by 3%, driven by the solid growth in Functional Minerals and the beginning recovery of the Oil and Mining Services business.
In Plastics and Coatings, sales rose by 5% with sales expansion in all three Business Units and particular strength in China.
EBITDA before exceptional items rose by 10% in Swiss francs and reached CHF 974 million, compared to CHF 887 million in the previous year. The absolute profitability improvement was attributable to the positive developments in all Business Areas.
The corresponding EBITDA margin before exceptional items advanced to 15.3%.
Net income climbed by 15% in Swiss francs to CHF 302 million from CHF 263 million in the previous year. This increase was supported by the improvement in absolute EBITDA before exceptional items as well as lower finance costs which could offset the one-off costs and higher tax expenses.
Operating cash flow declined to CHF 428 million due to temporarily higher cash out for one-off costs and higher net working capital as a result of brisk demand late in the fourth quarter of 2017 and the anticipated strong demand in the first quarter of 2018, especially in Catalysis.
Net debt remained stable at CHF 1.539 billion versus CHF 1.540 billion recorded at year-end 2016.
The continued improvement in performance allows the Board of Directors to propose a dividend of CHF 0.50 per share to the Annual General Meeting. This sum reflects an increase of 11 % compared to the previous year. This distribution is proposed to be made from the capital contribution reserve which is exempt from Swiss withholding tax.
CEO Hariolf Kottmann said: "Clariant delivered exemplary top-line growth and absolute EBITDA improvement in 2017. The results are particularly encouraging as all Business Areas contributed to this expansion. Clariant continues to consistently and successfully deliver on its strategy and is well on track to achieve its goals. We are making progress based mainly on our innovation and sustainability positioning. For 2018, we are confident that we will further grow in local currency, operating cash flow and profitability."