Monheim, Germany -- Speciality chemical supplier Cognis has reported sales up 10.6 percent to Euro 728 million ($893 million) in the first quarter of 2010 (Q1), compared to the same period last year -- largely due a strong recovery in demand and customer re-stocking.
Cognis's operating result improved 79.6 percent to Euro 131 million -- the best in the company's history, Cognis said 26 May.
Sales volumes across all business units were up 14.2 percent, reaching similar levels to 2008, with Europe in particular seeing a "remarkable recovery in demand," the statement said. Q1 earnings increased by Euro 68 million to Euro 103 million, driven by the strong operating performance.
Geographically, Q1 year-on-year sales were up by 10.1 percent in Europe, up by 29.8 percent in Asia-Pacific, and up by 4 percent and 2 percent in Central and South America and North America, respectively.
The company's Functional Product business, which contains the company's polyurethane activities -- including speciality PU films and resins, achieved sales of Euro 229 million, an increase of 14.1 percent, compared to the same period last year. Cognis said this positive development was driven particularly by the coatings and lubricants businesses, recording higher demand in all regions.
"Some of the key markets, including the automotive, housing and mechanical engineering sectors, have rebounded well since 2009," the company commented. Adjusted EBITDA rose strongly by 129.4 percent to Euro 39 million, due to both increased sales and reduced costs," the statement added.
"All our business units and regions delivered very strong results in the first quarter of 2010," said Cognis ceo, Antonio Trius. "Our company has been able to deliver excellent performance due to our improved product mix, significantly higher capacity utilisation and lower operating costs," he said.
Looking forward, Trius said, "With the global pickup in demand in the first quarter 2010 and the strong momentum continuing in April, there are clear signs that global economic conditions continue to recover. We remain cautiously optimistic and expect that the recovery in Europe will continue and that Asia-Pacific and other emerging markets will remain on track for growth.
"By continuing to focus on green specialties, product innovations and particularly emerging markets, we expect to further participate in market growth. However, overall visibility remains limited and trading conditions are still uncertain," he added.
Separately, news reports over the last few days have suggested Cognis, currently owned by private equity funds advised by Permira, GS Capital Partners and SV Life Sciences, has a number of potential buyers interested in acquiring the company including, reportedly, German chemical giant BASF.
Reports cited Cognis cfo, Marco Panichi, as saying a fair acquisition price would be around Euro 3500 million. (RD)