- Sales down by €71 million to €1,371 million
- Earnings comparable with level of 2013, supported by restructuring measures
Sales to third parties in the Paper Chemicals division fell by €71 million to €1,371 million compared with 2013 (volumes −3%, prices – 1%, currencies −1%). Sales volumes decreased slightly following portfolio optimization and restructuring measures. This meant that our business developed in step with our relevant market, which shrank slightly in 2014. The lower volumes were largely due to declining paper production in our largest market segment, graphical paper, as well as to our Asian customers’ increasing backward integration along the value chain. Lower raw material costs and an aggressive competitive environment led to declining prices. Negative currency effects additionally dampened sales.
In this difficult environment, we concentrated on repositioning our portfolio toward paper packaging and continued the expansion of product lines with competitive advantages for our customers. This allowed us to achieve significant gains in sales volumes of VFA-based cationic polymers and cost-effective binders, which enable paper manufacturers to produce more efficiently and at lower cost.
Income from operations before special items matched the level of the previous year. This was especially the result of measures taken in our restructuring project, which counteracted somewhat weaker sales volumes and the cost of starting up new plants in Asia and North America. Special charges arose predominantly from restructuring measures. Special income arose from the sales of our business with alkyl ketene dimer emulsions.