Altana Reports Leap in Sales and Earnings in 2014
The specialty chemicals Group Altana AG, Wesel, Germany, achieved significant growth in sales and earnings in the 2014 fiscal year. Sales amounted to around EUR 2 billion, corresponding to an increase of 11% year-over-year. The acquisition of Rockwood's rheology business, concluded on October 1, 2013, significantly contributed to this double-digit growth. Altogether, acquisitions comprised a total of 7% of the Group's sales growth. Adjusted for these effects and minor negative exchange rate effects, operating sales increased by 4%, primarily due to higher sales volumes. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) grew by 18%, amounting to EUR 397 million. At 20.4%, the EBITDA margin therefore reflects a clear margin expansion compared to the previous year (19.0%).
In 2014, Altana continued to invest heavily in innovation. Research and development expenses amounted to EUR 114 million in the year under review, corresponding to an increase of 4%. Comprising 6% of sales, this amount remains well above the industry average. At the end of the year, the number of employees working in research and development exceeded 1,000 for the first time.
Divisions and Regions
The BYK Additives & Instruments division again achieved the highest sales growth in 2014. Compared to the previous year, sales rose by 24% to EUR 857 million. The successful integration of Rockwood's rheology activities contributed 18% to this growth. Adjusted for acquisition and slightly positive exchange rate effects, operating sales rose by 7%.
The Eckart Effect Pigments division generated sales of EUR 332 million in 2014. Here, sales were 1% lower than in the previous year. Adjusted for acquisition and exchange rate effects, sales were also down by 1%. This decrease is due to changes in the product mix with volumes remaining unchanged.
Sales in the Elantas Electrical Insulation division rose by 4% to EUR 431 million in the 2014 fiscal year. Adjusted for negative exchange rate effects, sales were up by 5% due to higher sales volumes.
Sales in the Actega Coatings & Sealants division grew by 2% to EUR 332 million. The increase includes positive acquisition effects from the integration of activities acquired in 2013. However, the acquisition of two companies in Brazil in December 2014 is not yet reflected in the increase. Adjusted for acquisition and exchange rate effects, sales remained at the previous year's level. A slight increase in the sales volume was offset by negative product-mix effects.
In 2014, the Altana Group increased sales in all of its three core regions. At 20%, the Group achieved its highest growth rate in the Americas, particularly driven by the integration of the rheology activities. Sales in the U.S. were boosted by 26%. With a 19% share in total sales, the U.S. is Altana's largest single market. Adjusted for acquisition and exchange rate effects, operating sales growth in the Americas reached 4 percent, and 8 percent in the U.S. With a 5% increase, Altana's highest operating growth was achieved in Asia. The region accounted for 30% of Group sales. Accounting for 41% of Group sales, Europe continues to be Altana's most important sales region. Here, sales grew by 7%. Operating sales in Europe and in the company's German home market rose by 2%.
In the 2015 fiscal year, Altana expects the economy to show stable growth similar to that of the previous year. Against this backdrop, the Group anticipates sales growth of 2 to 5%, adjusted for acquisition and exchange rate effects.
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