On a regional basis, the sales development in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East & Africa all reflected single-digit growth in local currency. Both North America and Asia reported a slightly negative growth of 1%. The continued weaker demand in China negatively influenced group sales development in the first quarter.
The improved sales performance in the first quarter of 2019 resulted from expansion in the Business Areas Care Chemicals, Catalysis and Natural Resources.
In Plastics & Coatings, sales declined by 2% in local currency, largely as a result of the weaker than anticipated automotive and plastics markets as well as the further economic slowdown, particularly in China. However, the underlying demand in China remains solid and Clariant expects to see a gradual improvement throughout the remainder of 2019.
The newly reported EBITDA after exceptional items reached CHF 236 million with a corresponding margin of 13.8%. The 8% lower absolute EBITDA after exceptional items is the result of weaker profitability in Plastics & Coatings and higher project costs relating to Clariant’s step change into higher value specialties announced in September 2018.