The 2018 fiscal year was characterized by varying dynamics. In the first half of the year, ALTANA continued its dynamic growth, which was accompanied by an appealing margin development despite rising raw materials prices. But in the second half of the year, the demand in important user markets, including the automotive industry, was significantly more subdued. At the same time, accelerated raw materials price increases led to high margin pressure.
Due to declining contribution margins, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were down by eight percent from the high level of the previous year to €431 million. At 18.7 percent, the EBITDA margin reached the target range of 18 to 20 percent again in 2018.
“Despite the challenging market environment, we achieved our ambitious sales targets. This shows that ALTANA is in a strong position with its consistent customer proximity as well as innovative products and technologies,” said Martin Babilas, CEO of ALTANA AG. “In order to ply a safe course even in troubled waters, we are continuing to make strong investments in the future. In doing so, we are focusing, in addition to research and development for our customers in our core business, increasingly on digitalization and new technologies.”
The largest division, BYK, increased its sales by three percent to €1,066 million. Adjusted for acquisition and exchange-rate effects, sales were up by four percent.
At ECKART, nominal sales decreased by one percent to €383 million. Adjusted for acquisition and exchange-rate effects, sales climbed by one percent.
With sales up by four percent (nominal and operating), the ELANTAS division achieved a sales volume of €507 million.
At ACTEGA, nominal sales grew by three percent to €353 million. Adjusted for acquisition and exchange-rate effects, the sales growth was twice as high (six percent).
The ALTANA Group’s regional sales distribution was balanced again in 2018. Europe accounted for 38 percent of sales, Asia for 33 percent, and the Americas for 27 percent. In 2018, Asia recorded once more the strongest sales growth. Nominal sales grew by 5 percent and operating sales growth was six percent. In China, the ALTANA Group’s largest single market in the region and its second- largest market in the world, nominal sales increased by six percent and operating sales by five percent.
In Europe, nominal sales were up three percent and, adjusted for acquisition and exchange-rate effects, two percent. On the American market, nominal sales remained the same as in the previous year, while operating sales showed a three percent increase. Nominal sales in the U.S., the ALTANA Group’s largest single market, remained at the same level as in the previous year. Adjusted for exchange- rate effects and acquisitions, sales were two percent higher.
In 2018, ALTANA again steadily expanded its research and development activities in all divisions. The company’s activities were characterized by initiatives in the field of application-oriented research, the marketing of innovative products, and the development of new technologies. In total, research and development expenditure increased significantly in 2018, by eight percent to €154 million.
The 2019 fiscal year is expected to remain challenging. ALTANA anticipates a weaker global economic performance. Sales volumes are thus expected to develop moderately, and operating sales growth should come in between one percent and five percent. The EBITDA margin should remain approximately on the level of the previous year and therefore within the strategic target range between 18 and
20 percent. However, sales and earnings development can be influenced by hard-to-predict exchange-rates changes and further global economic development.