Clariant announced a robust performance in 2020. “Clariant has successfully weathered the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic due to our resilient portfolio and successful execution of our performance improvement programs,” said Conrad Keijzer, CEO of Clariant. “The reshaping of our portfolio towards a higher specialty value is progressing well. We will continue to execute Clariant’s strategy to differentiate through innovation, sustainability, portfolio, growth, and performance. We are taking a step up in our commitment to sustainability by announcing our new sustainability targets.”
Clariant announced full year 2020 continuing operations sales of 3.860 billion CHF, compared to 4.399 billion CHF in 2019. This corresponds to a decrease of 5 % in local currency and 12 % in Swiss francs due to depreciating currencies versus the Swiss franc. Pricing had a positive impact on the Group. However, the modest sales increase in Business Area Catalysis could not offset the lower volumes in Care Chemicals due to diminished Aviation activities and in Natural Resources due to depressed Oil demand.
In an unprecedentedly weak environment marked by Covid-19, oil oversupply and adverse currency volatility, the full year 2020 results exhibited a notable robustness. The 15.0 % EBITDA margin in full year 2020 was slightly above the nine month 2020 average of 14.8 %, as anticipated. These results therefore clearly reflect the superiority of Clariant’s specialty portfolio as well as the effectiveness of Clariant’s business continuity programs and performance measures. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Clariant was able to preserve business continuity through stringent safety and contingency measures, thus avoiding disruption while cooperating closely with customers and suppliers along the value chains.
From a regional perspective, Asia remained resilient, growing sales by 4 % with notable growth in India while China increased sales by 6 % in local currencies. Latin America also increased revenues by 7 % in local currency. Sales in Europe declined by 8 %, followed by the Middle East and Africa, where sales were down 13 %. The 14 % slowdown in North America was attributable to lower demand in the Aviation business and Oil Services.
Catalysis reported slight sales growth of 1 % in local currency, reflecting a sequential improvement throughout 2020 after a slow start in the first quarter. Resilient Petrochemicals sales and a significantly increased contribution from emission-control catalysts in India contributed positively. Excluding the feeble Aviation business in the first and fourth quarter, Care Chemicals sales reflected a positive development (reported –5 %). The 8 % sales decrease in Natural Resources is attributable in particular to lower volumes in oil and in the industrial applications amid softer demand during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Outlook – Focus on specialty portfolio and performance improvement
Clariant anticipates that the Covid-19 pandemic will still negatively impact sales, especially in Natural Resources, in the first quarter of 2021 versus the pre-Covid-19 comparable base in the first quarter of 2020. Despite rising feedstock prices Clariant aims to defend its margin levels in the first quarter of 2021 versus the prior year and will continue to focus on the safety of its employees, support to its communities, business continuity to its customers and stringent execution of its performance programs. This will be the fundament for taking the next step in 2021 to achieve above-market growth, higher profitability, and stronger cash generation in the mid-term.
Clariant is executing its five-pillar strategy by focusing on innovation, adding value with sustainability, repositioning the portfolio, intensifying growth – particularly in Asia and China – and improving performance.