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Clariant profitability remains resilient despite difficult economic environment

  • Sales from continuing operations decreased by 6 % in local currency to CHF 1.019 billion
  • Resilient EBITDA margin at 15.4 % (vs. 15.7 %) reached an EBITDA of CHF 157 million
  • Outlook: 2020 results will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; focus will therefore be on impact mitigation and cash generation

“In the first quarter of 2020, Clariant, together with the rest of the industry, was confronted with an unprecedented economic environment. However, our solid quarterly EBITDA margin reflects the Group’s attractive portfolio of resilient businesses, which maintained last year’s profitability level despite the particularly difficult and uncertain environment,” said Hariolf Kottmann, Executive Chairman ad interim of Clariant. “We will continue to put all our efforts into mitigating the effects of this pandemic and in protecting the safety of our employees. Clariant’s transformation program will remain in full progress.”

First Quarter 2020 – Resilient EBITDA margin despite sales decline in turbulent environment

Muttenz, April 30, 2020 - Clariant, a focused, sustainable and innovative specialty chemical company, today announces first quarter 2020 continuing operations sales of CHF 1.019 billion compared to CHF 1.164 billion in the first quarter of 2019. This corresponds to a 6 % decline in local currency and, due to an unfavorable currency effect, a 12 % decrease in Swiss francs.

The Group was confronted by a lower demand environment in the first quarter of 2020 amid a mild winter season and the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts to minimize the impact of this pandemic are fully in place based on a strong balance sheet and liquidity position. Clariant continues to assure employee safety first while concurrently running business continuity programs and implementing cash measures.

On a regional basis, the sales development in Asia was robust with a reported contraction in a low single-digit range despite the COVID-19 impact in China. Middle East and Africa as well as Latin America increased the most strongly in local currency. Sales in North America decreased slightly while Europe weakened significantly due to the substantially softer Aviation business, which was related to the mild weather conditions. 

Despite these challenges, the Natural Resources Business Area increased sales by 2 % in local currency due to sales expansion in Oil and Mining Services in the first quarter of 2020. Care Chemicals sales declined by 14 % in local currency due to the significantly weaker Aviation business, which was considerably more negatively impacted by the particularly milder winter than in the previous year. Catalysis sales declined by 6 % in local currency partly as a result of previously communicated forward sales shifts into the fourth quarter of 2019.

The continuing operations EBITDA decreased by 14 % in Swiss francs to CHF 157 million, impacted by the sales evolution in the first quarter of 2020. This was particularly a result of the weak Aviation business in Care Chemicals, softer profitability in Catalysis due to lower sales as well as currency effects. Nevertheless, the EBITDA margin remained robust at 15.4 % versus 15.7 % in the same period of the previous year, underpinned by rapid and efficient implementation of cost control measures.

Discontinued operations

 For the first quarter of 2020, sales in discontinued operations (Masterbatches and Pigments) declined by 6 % in local currency and by 12 % in Swiss francs. However, on a like-for-like basis, excluding Healthcare Packaging sales from the first quarter of 2019 as this business was divested in October 2019, organic sales remained unchanged in local currency.

The EBITDA decreased in absolute value due in part to the sale of the Healthcare Packaging business and one-off costs for the efficiency program in Pigments as well as for the carve-out of the discontinued operations. Thus, the underlying performance increased as a consequence of good margins and effective cost management.

Outlook – Focused portfolio to achieve above-market growth, higher profitability and stronger cash generation in the mid-term

Clariant is a focused, sustainable and innovative specialty chemical company that aims to grow above the market to achieve higher profitability through sustainability and innovation. The Group is significantly reshaping its portfolio through the divestment of Healthcare Packaging in 2019, the announced sale of Masterbatches and the planned divestment of Pigments.

Looking at 2020, Clariant anticipates a negative impact on sales and profitability from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Group has swiftly installed crisis task forces focusing on employee safety, community support, assuring business continuity and cash generation. The COVID-19 pandemic impact is expected to more strongly affect the second quarter of 2020. Clariant prepares for different scenarios to generate resilient performance and to continue its transformation program.

In the mid-term, Clariant expects its continuing businesses to achieve above-market growth, higher profitability and stronger cash generation based on the focused three pillars and high value specialty portfolio.

For more details, please download the PDF of the press release. 

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