- Sales decrease as a result of restructuring measures as well as lower demand
- Substantial reduction in fixed costs thanks to restructuring measures and strict cost management
- Earnings decline compared with previous year, mainly due to high special charges
- Outlook 2012: sales in continuing operations higher than previous year’s level; significant increase in earnings
In 2011, we posted sales to third parties of €1,623 million, a decrease of €90 million compared with the previous year (volumes –9%, prices 8%, portfolio –2%, currencies –2%). In addition to restructuring measures, this decline was attributable to the considerably lower demand in almost all regions; particularly in Europe and North and South America, we faced a difficult market and competitive environment. Increased prices could not fully offset the decline. In Asia, our sales volumes matched the previous year’s level. Here, we focused on the growth markets of China, India and Indonesia.
We were able to achieve a substantial reduction in our fixed costs through restructuring measures, such as the realignment of global production structures for paper dyes, and exiting the optical brightener business in Europe. Our strict cost management also contributed here. Nevertheless, income from operations declined, mainly on account of the high special charges resulting from restructuring measures.
In 2012, we continue to anticipate a difficult economic environment in the paper industry, especially in the regions Europe and North America. Electronic media will continue to displace printed media and paper, making further consolidation and plant closures necessary in our customer industry. On the other hand, the market for paper packaging material will continue to experience stable growth. Especially in this business environment, we plan to grow faster than the market with environmentally friendly, biodegradable barrier coatings. There are good growth opportunities in the Asian market. Therefore, we plan to start up plants for cationic polymers and coating binders in China in 2012. We will also focus on introducing new, inexpensive paper dispersions on the market and accelerating the launch of biopolymers. We aim for sales growth in our continuing operations in 2012 and want to significantly increase earnings through rising volumes and further reductions in fixed costs.