However, sharply rising raw materials costs which can only be passed on to customers with a certain time lag burden the company's profit. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) grew less strongly by 1% to €172.9 million, compared to €171.5 million in the prior-year period. The EBITDA margin thus declined from 22.2% to 20.6%. Earnings before taxes (EBT) rose by 1% from €126.2 million to €127.0 million.
Sales in the BYK Additives & Instruments division rose strongly in the first six months of 2011; they were up from €279.5 million in the prior-year period to €314.4 million, which is an increase of 13%. The ECKART Effect Pigments division recorded sales of €184.6 million, an increase of 2% on the prior year (€180.2 million). Sales in the ELANTAS Electrical Insulation division improved by 10% and were up from €185.5 million to €203.3 million. The ACTEGA Coatings & Sealants division was also able to improve sales noticeably, achieving an increase of 8%. The division generated sales of €138.0 million following €127.9 million in the first half of 2010.
"We are looking back on a successful first half-year 2011, in which we were able to continue our dynamic growth of the past business year,“ stated Dr. Matthias L. Wolfgruber, CEO of ALTANA AG. "However, the partially massive raw materials cost increases negatively affect our earnings. The best strategy against rising raw materials costs is a clear and strong focus on specialties with high relevance of research and service, which offer our customers added value. We will therefore maintain our course, which is oriented to innovation and customer service in order to continue profitable growth in the future."
ALTANA anticipates sales growth in comparison with the prior year also for the second half of the current business year. However, compared to the first six months of 2011, the growth momentum is expected to slow down. The EBITDA margin 2011 should remain below the prior-year figure (20.5%) owing to the raw materials cost increases. Should the economic environment worsen, caused for example by the high public debt levels of many industrial nations, the business of ALTANA would also be affected.