Adjusted for positive exchange-rate effects, the decline was 6%. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) reached €221 million, 12% down on the previous year’s figure. The EBITDA margin reached 19.2% despite a further increase in expenses for research and development.
The Group boosted its spending in this field by 7% in the first half of 2019. With a share of sales of also 7%, ALTANA continues to invest above-average amounts in research and development, including the development of innovative printing technologies.
“ALTANA is a company with substantial financial and innovative strength. Therefore, we can hold our ground even in a difficult environment and continue to invest heavily in our future in order to remain on course for sustained success,” said Martin Babilas, CEO.
For the second half of the year, ALTANA expects the challenging conditions to persist. Sales for the year as a whole should be at roughly the same level as in the previous year. The EBITDA margin is expected to be at the lower end of the long- term target range of 18% to 20%.
Divisions: ACTEGA Continues to Grow
The largest division, BYK, recorded a decline in sales of 5% (7% in operating terms) to €535 million. The acquisition of Paul N. Gardner Company, completed in July, will contribute to strengthening the instruments business, particularly in America, in the second half of 2019.
The effect pigment specialist ECKART generated sales of €185 million. This corresponds to a decline in sales of 9% (operating 11%). In addition to sluggish demand, particularly from the automotive industry, the discontinuation of trading in white pigments in China contributed to this development as a special effect.
The supplier of electrical insulation materials, ELANTAS, recorded sales of €250 million and was thus 4% (operating 5%) below the previous year’s figure, mainly owing to the lack of demand momentum in China.
ACTEGA continued its growth in the first half of 2019. Due to the continuing good demand for coating and packaging solutions from consumer-oriented industries, the division increased its sales by 4% to €184 million. Adjusted for positive exchange-rate effects, operating sales growth amounted to 3%.
Business developed differently from region to region. Europe, still the region with the highest sales, reached €456 million and remained stable overall with a slight minus of 2%. Sales in Asia fell by 8% to €363 million. Adjusted for positive exchange-rate effects, the decline in operating sales was 10%, mainly owing to the current low demand in China. Operating sales in America decreased by 6%. Due to positive exchange-rate effects, ALTANA almost reached the previous year’s figure with only a slight decrease of 1% to 316 million euros.
ALTANA continued to expand its sites in all regions of the world in the first half of the year. In April, the Group opened a new integrated site for BYK in Shanghai. In June, a new ACTEGA innovation center commenced operations in Grevenbroich. ALTANA is currently significantly expanding the BYK site in Gonzales, TX with €50 million and the ACTEGA site in Bremen with approximately €20 million.
At the same time, ALTANA is investing heavily in digitalization. For example, two new e-commerce platforms went online at BYK and ACTEGA in the first half of the year. Over the next three years, the specialty chemicals group plans to spend almost 40 million euros on this future-oriented area.
At mid-year 2019 (June 30), ALTANA had 6,436 employees worldwide, 130 more than on June 30, 2018.