The specialty chemicals Group ALTANA (Wesel, Germany), which serves industries such as coatings and electronics, reported that it posted considerably lower first-half sales and earnings in 2009 than in the comparative period of the previous year on account of the worldwide economic crisis. In total, ALTANA recorded significant losses in sales and earnings in the first six months of 2009. Sales decreased by 25% to €541.0 million, down from €716.8 million in the same period a year ago.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) decreased by 52%, from €141.4 million in the previous year to €68.0 million. The EBITDA margin was down to 12.6% and is therefore lower than the value of 19.7% of the previous year. Earnings before taxes (EBT) amounted to €24.5 million, following €103.6 million in the prior year.
In comparison with the preceding first three months of 2009, the sales performance in the period April to June 2009 showed a positive trend; it was not possible, however, to offset the very weak first quarter of the business year, the company said.
Sales in the BYK Additives & Instruments division decreased by 21% to €186.0 million; in the prior year, sales had amounted to €236.6 million. The ECKART Effect Pigments division posted a sales decline of 34% to €125.4 million. In 2008, sales had amounted to €189.9 million. In the ELANTAS Electrical Insulation division, sales were down by 28% to €128.8 million, following €178.6 million in 2008. Sales in the ACTEGA Coatings & Sealants division remained relatively stable, decreasing by 10% to €100.8 million (prior year: €111.7 million).
The company noted that it saved approximately €35 million in the first six months of 2009 through a cost-cutting program initiated in the late summer of 2008. Among the program’s measures are reductions in costs of materials and personnel as well as a postponement of investments. In total, the company plans to save about €55 million in the current business year.
The company said that because of the continuing high uncertainty of the economy, it is still not possible to provide a concrete forecast for sales and earnings.
ALTANA’s product range includes additives, special coatings and adhesives, effect pigments, sealants and compounds, impregnating resins and varnishes, and testing and measuring instruments.