The sales growth was primarily due to positive exchange rate effects (7 percent) and acquisitions (1 percent). Adjusted for these effects, operating sales in 2015 were 2 percent down and therefore slightly below the strong previous year’s level. “Despite unexpectedly sluggish demand development in some markets, ALTANA remained on track in 2015,“ said Martin Babilas, CEO of ALTANA AG since January 1, 2016. “We are very well positioned for further profitable growth, including growth under our own steam.”
In 2015, the ACTEGA Coatings & Sealants division achieved the strongest growth of all of ALTANA’s divisions. Following the acquisition of two companies in Brazil at the end of 2014, sales rose by 13 percent to €376 million. Adjusted for acquisition and exchange rate effects, sales were roughly on a par with the previous year’s level.
Operating sales in the ECKART Effect Pigments division also reached the previous year’s level. Due to positive exchange rate effects, sales grew by 5 percent to €350 million.
The ELANTAS Electrical Insulation division boosted sales by 7 percent to €463 million. Adjusted for exchange rate effects, sales were 3 percent lower than in the previous year, primarily due to weaker demand in China.
The BYK Additives & Instruments division increased sales by 2 percent to€870 million. Adjusted for exchange rate effects, sales were 4 percent lower than in the previous year. Of decisive importance for this development were the economic downturn in China and, in particular, declining demand from customers in the oil and gas industry.
The ALTANA Group’s sales distribution according to regions continues to be balanced, with Europe accounting for 39 percent of total sales, Asia 30 percent, and the Americas 29 percent. As in the previous year, the Group’s highest growth rate was achieved in the Americas, where sales increased by 15 percent. Sales in the U.S. rose by 14 percent. Accounting for 20 percent of ALTANA’s total sales, the U.S. remains the company’s largest single market. Sales in Asia grew by 4 percent. Operating sales in Asia and the Americas were lower compared to the previous year due to the economic downswing in China and the weak demand from the oil and gas industry. Both nominal and operating sales in Europe remained stable at the previous year’s level.
In 2015, ALTANA continued to invest heavily in innovation. Research and development expenses amounted to €128 million. This corresponds to a 12 percent increase over the previous year and a continued disproportionately high share in sales of 6 percent.
ALTANA’s investments in property, plant and equipment and intangible assets totaled €86 million (previous year: €90 million). After the extensive expansion of production capacities for BYK additives in the U.S. was completed in 2014, the company’s focus of investments shifted back to Germany in 2015. In Hamburg, ALTANA established a new research center for printed electronics. In Hartenstein, capacities were expanded for the manufacture of ECKART effect pigments for the construction industry. This was one of the largest single investments in the site’s history. ACTEGA started expanding the research and development capacities at its Grevenbroich site in 2015. At its headquarters in Wesel, the Group continued to make investments in production and infrastructure.
For the 2016 fiscal year, ALTANA anticipates overall increasing sales volumes and therefore operating sales growth in the low to medium single-digit percentage range. The company’s nominal sales growth may deviate from operating sales development primarily due to exchange rate changes that are difficult to predict. The Group’s return on sales is expected to be slightly higher compared to the already high previous year’s level.