Clariant cuts its sales outlook as strong Swiss franc and low demand takes toll

SWISS speciality chemicals maker Clariant cut its full-year sales and margins target for 2011 yesterday, as the strong Swiss franc and a softening of global demand take their toll.

The Basel-based firm said it expects 2011 sales of SwFr7-7.2bn (£5.5 - £5.7bn) and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) margin between 12.8 and 13.2 per cent.

The company, which makes colour and additive concentrates for the car and textile industries, had previously forecast an Ebitda margin of 13.5-14.5 per cent in 2011, helped by its £1.7bn acquisition of German group Sued-Chemie.

The Swiss franc has risen some 16 per cent against the euro in July and August alone, with sharp gains also against the dollar, pressuring the margins at many Swiss companies including Clariant, drugmaker Roche, and bank Julius Baer.

Chief executive Hariolf Kottman confirmed Clariant’s 2015 Ebitda margin before exceptional items of above 17 per cent and said further savings and the continued integration of Sued-Chemie would help the group’s performance in coming years.

“The turbulence on the world markets and the ongoing euro and dollar crises have strongly shaken confidence in future economic development,” said Alessandro Miolo, Ernst & Young partner responsible for the Swiss German market.

Shares in Clariant slumped 16.3 per cent yesterday.