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07-29-2010

Clariant: Improved Profitability

Clariant International, Muttenz, Switzerland, a world leader in specialty chemicals, announced sales of CHF 1,894 billion in the second quarter 2010, compared to CHF 1,609 billion in the previous year. Sales increased 18% in Swiss Francs and 20% in local currency.

Volumes were up 20% over an extremely weak second quarter 2009, but remained significantly below pre-crisis levels. On the back of a broad economic recovery, Clariant reported sales growth across all businesses and regions. The Business Units Pigments, Additives, Leather and Masterbatches benefited the most from the improved economic environment and grew above group average.

As a consequence of the pick-up in business activity, inventories and trade receivables were significantly higher than in the second quarter of 2009 that had marked the peak of the economic crisis. Nevertheless cash flow from operations remained positive at CHF 33 million compared to CHF 184 million in the second quarter of previous year based on decisive net working capital management and good EBIT generation.

Against the backdrop of the depreciation of the Euro against the USD and an increased competitiveness, demand in Europe developed better than expected compared to the low basis year on year, which resulted in a strong 22% sales growth for Clariant.

Demand in the regions Asia, Latin and North America increased as well, favorably affecting the company’s sales volumes.

Clariant significantly improved the gross margin to 28.9% from 24.8% year on year, based on good capacity utilization. Sequentially, the company increased sales prices by 1% in order to respond to a 4% uptake in raw material costs. However, these price increases have not been sufficient yet to fully compensate for the feedstock markup and will be intensified in the coming months in particular as raw material costs are predicted to further increase.

Despite the negative margin squeeze Clariant managed to keep the gross margin stable sequentially also due to a favorable development of exchange rates and higher volumes.

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