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Clariant Tweaks Profit Goal Citing Volatile Economy, Currencies

Clariant AG broadened a 2015 profitability target as the Swiss chemical company forecast a more volatile global economy and currency swings.

The company is now targeting a profit margin, based on earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, of 16 to 19 percent by the end of next year, compared to an earlier goal of 17 percent, Clariant said in a statement today.

“I think it’s more precise, taking into consideration that the economy is volatile, the currencies in emerging markets are volatile, that we guide on a range,” Chief Executive Officer Hariolf Kottmann said on a call. “The overall very ambitious target stays.”

Kottmann, who purchased German catalyst maker Sued-Chemie for about $2.3 billion in 2011, has been revamping the company to make it less dependent on commodity chemicals and last week announced the sale of a water-treatment unit to South Africa’s AECI Ltd. The CEO said today that reaching the profitability target will be a “leap” from the 14.1 percent reported in 2013 with two thirds of the improvement expected to come from operational gains and the remainder from companywide cost cuts.

Fourth-quarter sales from continuing operations rose 4 percent to 1.56 billion Swiss francs ($1.76 billion), beating the estimate of 1.52 billion francs in a survey of analysts by Bloomberg. Earnings before interest and taxes excluding one-off items reached 157 million francs, also beating analyst expectations. The company proposed a 2013 dividend of 0.36 francs per share.

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