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Specialty Chemicals – Overview

  • Full-year revenue increased 8 percent, mainly driven by price increases
  • Weakening demand in some segments visible during the year
  • Performance improvement program initiated
  • Full-year EBITDA decreased 4 percent to €906 million against a strong 2010
  • EBITDA margin remained solid at 17.0 percent (2010: 19.0 percent)

After a strong 2010, the Specialty Chemicals portfolio delivered a solid performance during 2011. Most businesses, such as Industrial Chemicals, Surface Chemistry, and Pulp and Paper Chemicals recorded good growth and their best-ever profitability. Functional Chemicals saw its earnings decrease after a strong 2010 performance, especially in the Ethylene Amines product line. Revenue grew over last year, mainly on price increases with overall volumes showing limited growth due to the economic slowdown, which became more visible in some segments during the year, as well as growth being hampered in some business units due to capacity constraints, for which solutions are underway. Some specific product lines captured substantial growth, especially in market sectors for Surface Chemistry and Pulp and Paper Chemicals, where the demand remained strong. Chemicals Pakistan continued to be plagued by difficult business conditions, among them a persistent natural gas shortage in the country, leading to higher costs for using alternative energy sources as well as 6 percent lower off-take from our customers. Raw material prices increased significantly during the year, despite starting to level off and stabilize by the end of 2011. More headwind came from adverse transactional currency developments impacting margins and also from the energy market in the Netherlands, where spark spreads (the difference between gas input costs versus electricity sales prices) are unattractive for energy producers. With effective margin management these effects are compensated in our pricing, and overall for our portfolio our unit margins remained close to the same level. The overall strong portfolio showed a decent profitability in these difficult economic circumstances.

Q4 showed lower volumes in most segments, due to lower demand and customer stock control. Despite these factors, revenue increased by 2 percent on the back of price increases.

Revenue development 2011

Specialty Chemicals – Revenue development 2011 (bar chart)

Revenue development Q4 2011

Specialty Chemicals – Revenue development Q4 2011 (bar chart)
Specialty Chemicals – Key brands (logos)
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