Due to the effects of the worldwide economic crisis, particularly in the fourth quarter, sales in all regions declined in comparison to the prior year. Asia reported a slight sales decline of 1 percent in 2008; in Europe the decline was 2 percent. Sales in North and South America fell by 7 percent in comparison to 2007, due to exchange rate effects.
The ALTANA Group’s number of employees as of December 31, 2008, was 4,791 (prior year: 4,646), including the 33 new employees from the acquisition of the Dutch wax additives manufacturer Dick Peters.
The BYK Additives & Instruments division achieved sales of €450 million in 2008, a slight increase on the reported €445 million in the prior year. Sales of the ECKART Effect Pigments division totaled €351 million, which is a decrease of about 3 percent or €12 million compared to the prior year. In the ELANTAS Electrical Insulation division sales dropped 7 percent from €351 million to €327 million. ACTEGA Coatings & Sealants achieved sales of €214 million, this is about 3 percent less than in 2007 (€222 million).
The preliminary earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in the business year 2008 diminished slightly by 2 percent from €248 million to €243 million. The EBITDA margin was 18.1 percent, following 18.0 percent in 2007.
The financial and economic crisis has led to a severe downturn in the business development in the fourth quarter of 2008. Compared to 2007, sales declined group-wide by 16 percent to €274 million. The operating decrease was even 20 percent. All divisions and regions were affected. Despite the comprehensively and immediately introduced countermeasures to reduce costs and increase efficiency, the fourth quarter EBITDA was only €30 million, following €56 million in the prior year period. Also in the first weeks of the new business year, order entries developed slowly. Therefore, the company expects sales for the first quarter of 2009 also to be significantly lower than in the prior year period.
“Despite our diversified portfolio and the connected robustness therewith, also ALTANA has not been able to remain untouched by the worldwide economic crisis, by which almost all sectors of the economy and regions, and therefore also our customers, have been affected at the latest since the fourth quarter of 2008,” stated Dr. Matthias L. Wolfgruber, CEO of ALTANA AG. “For 2009, we expect a very difficult market environment, for which we have prepared ourselves with a set of measures to reduce costs and to further increase efficiency. However, our core competences and key success factors – innovation as well as service and customer orientation – will not be neglected.”