In Germany, Clariant announced Q1 2017 sales of CHF 1.602 billion compared to CHF 1.478 billion in the first quarter of 2016. This corresponds to an increase of 9 % in local currency and 8 % in Swiss francs. The sales growth was driven by higher volumes across all Business Areas and increased by 3 % due to acquisitions.
In the first quarter, local currency sales growth was strong in Europe at 12 %, Asia at 11 % and the Middle East & Africa at 7 %, while North America grew by 11 % driven by acquisitions. 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.
Care Chemicals and Plastics & Coatings continued their robust growth trends. 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 the 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.
Clariant confirmed its mid-term target of reaching a position in the top tier of the specialty chemicals industry. This corresponds to an EBITDA margin before exceptional items in the range of 16 % to 19 % and a return on invested capital (ROIC) above the peer group average.