Clariant post 5% dip in sales, axe 1000 job positions to adjust to downturn

Clariant, a leading specialty chemical company posted a 5% slide in its 2008 full year sales standing at CHF 8.1 bln as against CHF 8.5 bln in 2007. On local currency, sales moved up 1%. The company announced to further trim jobs by 1000 personnels, particularly in the Selling, General and Admistrative (SG&A) areas. Focussing on cash generation, the Board of Directors will recommend to Clariant's 14th General Assembly on April 2 not to pay dividends, grants and other share-holder payouts for 2008. The company said that full year guidance on EBIT and Cash Flow was met with an operating margin before exceptionals in the range of 6.5% to 6.8% and a cash flow from operations of approximately CHF 400 mln. According to the release, the company passed two distinct phases during fiscal year 2008. In the first nine months, the company continued to benefit from the then-stable economic environment. On the contrary, in Q4 - 2008, Clariant was significantly impacted by an unprecedented decline in global economic activity impacting demand in some of Clariant's customer industries such as textile, leather, automotive and construction. Other markets such as agrochemicals, oil services or de-icing showed resilience against the downturn. As a result of the deterioration of the leather and textile markets and their uncertain evolution in 2009, Clariant revised the plans for these two businesses, which led to an impairment of approximately CHF 180 mln to be booked in Q4 - 2008.
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