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Clariant reports 2013 profit growth

By: Frank Esposito

February 19, 2014

Swiss specialty chemicals and plastics giant Clariant International Ltd. saw its profit from continuing operations grow almost 60 percent in 2013, even as the firm’s overall sales were essentially flat.

Continuing operations profit for 2013 checked in at 323 million Swiss francs (US$363.7 million) on sales of almost 6.1 billion Swiss francs (US$6.8 billion). Muttenz-based Clariant sold off several businesses during 2013, including emulsions and leather services. Including those businesses in 2013 results lowers the firm’s overall profit to 5 million Swiss francs (US$5.6 million).

“Clariant has made good progress in 2013,” chief executive officer Hariolf Kottmann said in a Feb. 19 news release. “The unfolding operational strength of the company became visible in a challenging economic environment.”

“After the divestment of several businesses, Clariant is now a more profitable, less cyclical and well-balanced specialty chemicals player,” he added.

Plastics and Coatings — including pigments, additives and one of the world’s largest masterbatches businesses — was the largest of Clariant’s four business units in 2013 with sales of 2.5 billion Swiss francs (US$2.8 billion). That total represented more than 41 percent of the firm’s total sales.

Plastics and Coatings sales for 2013 were was flat with 2012, but the unit’s pretax profit fell almost 13 percent to 256 million Swiss francs (US$287.9 million). In the release, Clariant officials said that fourth-quarter 2013 masterbatch sales increased in all regions except North America. Latin America, Greater China and India contributed to fourth-quarter masterbatch growth, while the business environment in Europe improved slightly.

Clariant made three plastics-related acquisitions during 2013, buying masterbatch maker Platichemix Industries of Vadodora, India, and the organic pigment business of Chinese materials firm Jiangsu Multicolor Fine Chemical Co. Ltd. while forming a masterbatch joint venture with Tasnee & Sahara Olefins Co. of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The firm also launched several new products in 2013, including new grades of its AddWorks-brand polymer additives aimed at sustainability and innovation, as well as the HiFormer liquid color development service, which Clariant debuted at the K 2013 trade show.