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(Bloomberg) -- Clariant AG, the Swiss maker of petrochemical catalysts and oil-drilling chemicals, pushed back the deadline for meeting its margin target and said it will take additional efficiency gains to step closer to the goal.
Profitability will widen this year, yet will fall short of the 16 percent to 19 percent range that had been Clariant’s target for 2015, the Muttenz-based company said in a release today, without setting a new date for meeting the goal.
“Clariant expects an ongoing challenging environment characterized by an increased volatility in commodity prices and currencies,” the company said. “In emerging markets, the economic environment is expected to remain favorable but at a lower level and with increased volatility.”
After purchasing catalyst maker Sued-Chemie in 2011 and selling less-profitable units, Chief Executive Officer Hariolf Kottmann is turning his attention to growth initiatives. The chemical maker faces a setback after Switzerland abandoned a foreign-exchange cap on the franc earlier this year, and it said today Europe will remain weak in 2015.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization declined 1 percent to 232 million francs ($248 million) in the fourth quarter, with a margin of 14.6 percent. Analysts in a Bloomberg survey predicted profit of 237 million francs. Sales added 1 percent to 1.59 billion francs, against a 1.6 billion-franc prediction.
Clariant plans to raise its dividend to 40 cents a share from 36 cents.
Kottmann has been unremitting in his transformation of Clariant since taking over the top job in 2008. He set a target for mid-single-digit growth in local currencies, plus a higher adjusted Ebitda margin.
Competition in the catalyst industry is intensifying as suppliers slim their focus to provide the financial muscle to run research and development programs in technology that can take up to a decade to reach the market. WR Grace & Co. this month announced plans to split in two, while Umicore and Johnson Matthey Plc have or are in the process of selling units.
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