“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. This, coupled with best customer experience and fast, reliable customer fulfillment will trigger above-market growth, higher profitability and stronger cash generation.”

Full Year 2018 – Higher sales and continued EBITDA expansion

Clariant, a focused and innovative specialty chemical company, announced full year 2018 sales of CHF 6.623 billion compared to CHF 6.377 billion in 2017. This corresponds to 5 % growth in local currency, all of which is organic, driven by a progression in all Business Areas, particularly in Catalysis. Both higher volumes and pricing underpinned this expansion.

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 an excellent 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.

EBITDA before exceptional items rose by 5 % in Swiss francs and reached CHF 1.018 billion, compared to CHF 974 million in the previous year. The absolute profitability improvement was attributable to the positive contributions from Care Chemicals, Catalysis and Plastics & Coatings.

The corresponding EBITDA margin before exceptional items advanced to 15.4 % from 15.3 % in the previous year.

Net income climbed by 18 % to CHF 356 million from CHF 302 million in full year 2017. This increase was supported by the improvement in absolute EBITDA as well as lower one-off costs and a lower effective tax rate.

Operating cash flow rose significantly by 24 % to CHF 530 million from CHF 428 million in the previous year due to the improved absolute EBITDA and net working capital management. This positive development is particularly noteworthy given the one-off tax settlement amounting to CHF 83 million paid in the first half of 2018.

Net debt decreased to CHF 1.374 billion versus CHF 1.539 billion recorded at the end of 2017.

The continued improvement in performance allows the Board of Directors to propose a dividend of CHF 0.55 per share to the Annual General Meeting. This sum reflects an increase of 10 % compared to the previous year. This distribution is proposed to be made from the capital contribution reserve, which is exempt from Swiss withholding tax.

Fourth Quarter 2018 – Improvement in local currency sales and profitability

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.

Almost all regions contributed to the growth. In the Middle East & Africa, sales in local currency grew by a robust 15 % driven mainly by Catalysis. Sales in Latin America increased by 9 % in local currency supported by Oil & Mining Services, in North America by a solid 3 % and in Asia by 2 % with a slowing in China. Only sales in Europe had a negative growth of 2 % largely due to the particularly challenging comparison base.

Catalysis sales grew by 9 % in local currency mainly as a result of higher demand for Petrochemical Catalysts. Natural Resources sales climbed by 11 % in local currency with positive contributions from both the Oil & Mining Services as well as the Functional Minerals businesses. Sales in Care Chemicals rose by 1 % in local currency, supported by the Consumer Care businesses. Sales in Plastics & Coatings were 3 % lower in local currency due to the softening demand in Asia and Europe in particular.

EBITDA before exceptional items decreased by 2 % in Swiss francs to CHF 253 million from CHF 257 million in the previous year, driven by the temporary softer margins in Care Chemicals and Natural Resources.

Nevertheless, the EBITDA margin before exceptional items on Group level increased to 15.5 % from 15.3 % in the previous year due to the strong margin improvement in Catalysis which more than compensated for the profitability softness in Care Chemicals and Natural Resources.

Outlook 2021 – above-market growth, higher profitability and stronger cash generation

Calriants aim is to make our customers more successful. We therefore constantly focus on timely and rewarding innovations, products that are difficult to imitate, sustainability, agility as well as ethical practices. We will only be satisfied with the highest level of excellence in every function within the Group. Our success will be realized through the execution of our strategy.

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