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Clariant's first quarter 2017 key financial data.
Clariant's first quarter 2017 key financial data.

Switzerland specialty chemicals company Clariant announced first quarter 2017 sales of CHF 1.602 billion, which corresponds to an increase of 9% in local currency and 8% in Swiss francs, compared with CHF 1.478 billion in first quarter of last year.

According to the company, local currency sales growth was strong in the first quarter: +12% in Europe, +11% in Asia, +7% in the Middle East & Africa. North America also grew by 11% driven by acquisitions, while the growth in Asia was supported by China and Southeast Asia.

In Latin America, demand declined by 5% in local currency against a strong comparable base and as a result of the weaker economic environment mainly in Brazil.

Clariant's Care Chemicals sales rose by 9% in local currency to CHF 440 million supported by growth in both the Consumer Care and the Industrial Applications businesses. Sales in Plastics & Coatings increased by 6% in local currency to CHF 673 million with a particularly strong regional development in Europe.

Natural Resources sales grew by 17% in local currency and reached CHF 347 million, bolstered by acquisitions. In a difficult industry environment, the underlying Oil and Mining Services sales were slightly negative, but were helped by acquisitions. Functional Minerals continued its solid growth development. Sales in Catalysis were up by 2% in local currency to CHF 142 million with a soft demand recovery in the Asian and European markets.

EBITDA before exceptional items significantly increased by 10% in local currency and reached CHF 250 million, compared to CHF 229 million in the previous year.

Clariant expects the uncertain environment, characterized by a high volatility in commodity prices, currencies as well as political uncertainties, to continue. In emerging markets, the company anticipates economic environment to remain challenging and volatile. Moderate growth is expected in the US, while Europe remains stable.

For 2017, in spite of a continued challenging economic environment, Clariant is confident to be able to achieve growth in local currency, as well as progression in operating cash flow, absolute EBITDA and EBITDA margin before exceptional items.

"Clariant achieved a very good start into the year with good volume growth and higher profitability," said CEO Hariolf Kottmann. "Our focus on local currency growth and profitability improvement is clearly reflected in these encouraging results. We are on a solid path towards achieving our sales expansion targets, a continued progression in absolute EBITDA and EBITDA margin before exceptional items as well as operating cash flow generation, in spite of what continues to be a challenging market environment in specific business areas."

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