“In 2018, Clariant achieved good sales and profit growth and significantly improved operating cash flow despite an increasingly challenging environment,” said Ernesto Occhiello, CEO of Clariant. “Going forward, we will continue to identify and address the next challenges and future demands within our respective businesses and those of our customers.”
For the full year, all regions contributed to the sales growth in local currency. Sales in Latin America grew the strongest, by 12%. Sales in Asia increased by 7%, bolstered by a particularly positive development in China and India. In North America, sales rose by 5%. Both Europe and the Middle East & Africa increased sales by 2%.
The improved sales performance for the full year resulted from growth in all business areas with Care Chemicals, Catalysis and Natural Resources reporting strong expansion. Sales in Care Chemicals rose by 7% in local currency primarily supported by Consumer Care. Catalysis sales improved by 11% in local currency with a strong organic sales growth amounting to 8%.
Natural Resources sales accelerated by 8% in local currency, mainly lifted by improved Oil & Mining Services demand and solid growth in Functional Minerals. In Plastics & Coatings, sales rose by 1% in local currency with particularly strong regional expansion in Latin America.
Net debt decreased to CHF 1.374 billion versus CHF 1.539 billion recorded at the end of 2017.
In the fourth quarter of 2018, sales rose by 3% in local currency to CHF 1.629 billion. This represents a decrease of 3% in Swiss francs year-on-year due to unfavorable currency fluctuations. The sales growth in local currency was mainly driven by Catalysis and Natural Resources.