20 March 2000 00:00 [Source: ICB Americas]Lonza's fine and specialty chemicals division increased its operating profit, on a comparable basis, by 15 percent to SFr 263 million ($158 million) last year, raising its operating margin to more than 16 percent.
The improved profitability came mainly from a better product mix with higher value-added products, cost reduction measures and improved capacity utilization, according to the company, now independent of its former parent Alusuisse Lonza.
The division's sales, amounting to three-quarters of group turnover, rose by 4 percent to SFr 1.6 billion ($966 million). Sales of exclusive fine chemicals were static at SFr 477 million, but pricing pressures reduced sales of organic chemicals by 9 percent to SFr 474 million.
Sales of biotechnology products, however, rose by 12 percent to SFr 139 million, mainly because of growing demand for L-carnitine and a big increase in the market for monoclonal antibodies and other therapeutic proteins.
Total group sales went up by 1.4 percent to SFr 2.2 billion, and operating income rose by 9 percent, on a comparable basis, to SFr 307 million. Sales of intermediates and additives dropped 6 percent to SFr 493 million, and operating income plummeted by 60 percent to SFr 23 million.
Laporte's specialty organics business had a 47 percent increase in sales to £382 million ($600 million) last year, and its operating profit went up 69 percent to £71 million. The business, which benefited from its acquisition of Inspec in September 1998, accounted for 42 percent of group sales and 45 percent of profit, up from 34 percent and 33 percent, respectively, in the previous year.
The company's fine chemicals business has a developmental pipeline with prospects for 96 new products over the next five years that could yield sales of £275 million. The company had only 72 such prospects in development in 1998.
For the latest chemical news, data and analysis that directly impacts your business sign up for a free trial to ICIS news - the breaking online news service for the global chemical industry.
Get the facts and analysis behind the headlines from our market leading weekly magazine: sign up to a free trial to ICIS Chemical Business.
Asian Chemical Connections