ALTANA was able to match the strong prior-year level in terms of sales and operating earnings in the first half of 2013. Sales in the first six months of the current business year reached €887 million (prior year: €886 million). Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were at €178 million, compared to €180 million in the first half of 2012. At 20.1%, the EBITDA margin also remained at a high level.
"We are looking back on a successful first half year, in which we were able to maintain the strong prior-year level, despite the difficult overall economic conditions in Europe," stated Dr. Matthias L. Wolfgruber, CEO of ALTANA AG.
In contrast to the same period in 2012, ALTANA recorded rising sales volumes in the first six months of the current business year. However, these were offset by negative price/mix and exchange rate effects. Nevertheless, the company again increased its research and development expenses considerably by 8%. The Group had already boosted its R&D investments by a double-digit rate in the business year 2012 as a whole.
"ALTANA stands for innovation. This is where we are setting standards," said Wolfgruber. "We are committed to investing steadily in the development of new specialty chemicals solutions and applications.“
In the first half of 2013, growth was registered by the divisions BYK Additives & Instruments and ELANTAS Electrical Insulation. BYK increased sales by 3%, primarily due to acquisitions, with sales up to €335 million on the prior-year figure (€326 million). ELANTAS achieved a growth of 2%, with sales up from €211 million to €215 million. By contrast, ECKART Effect Pigments recorded a decline in sales by 5%, with sales down to €170 million (prior-year period: €179 mil-lion). At €167 million, sales at ACTEGA Coatings & Sealants were 2% down on the prior-year level (€171 million).
With an increase in sales of 7%, business in Asia was very satisfactory in the first half of the year. In China, ALTANA was able to achieve even double-digit growth, with sales up by 13%. Sales in North and South America grew by 2% compared to the first half of 2012. In Europe, however, sales decreased by 5%. This also affected the home market Germany.
ALTANA reaffirms its forecast for the full year and still anticipates a sales growth in the lower single-digit percentage range, with return on sales and capital being about as high as in the previous year. This does not include the expected effects of the acquisition of Rockwood's rheology business.