In spite of the general economic recession Chr. Hansen continues to experience solid growth. Sales in local currencies increased by 12% to EUR 128 million, corresponding to a growth of 6% in EUR. Better product mix and improved margins resulted in a 19% growth in EBITDA, while EBIT increased by 30% despite negative currency development.
• 12 % growth in local currencies (adjusted for acquisitions and divestments)
All three divisions experienced double digit growth rates
• EBITDA before special items increased by 19% to EUR 40 million
• EBITDA margin was 30.9% compared to 27.4% in the corresponding
period last year
• EBIT increased by 30% to EUR 28 million
• Strong free cash flow resulting in EUR 96 million reduction in debt
”We have had a strong first quarter and are well prepared to capture future growth not least due to our EUR 55 million investment in the world’s largest culture plant and our continued R&D spending. It is satisfactory to see that despite adverse exchange rates and challenging market conditions, we experience both solid topand bottom-line growth, and we look forward to yet another robust year” says Lars
The sales growth has been strong within all three divisions despite challenging market conditions.
Sales within Chr. Hansen’s largest business division, Cultures and Enzymes Division have shown growth in local currencies of 10%. The sales growth is driven by conversion to advanced culture solutions in all markets. New products introduced by Chr. Hansen in particular to the yoghurt market combined with increased sales activities in the Asian markets further support the growth.
The Health & Nutrition Division, selling probiotics to the food supplement and agricultural industries, has increased sales in local currencies by 25%. We continue to see a strong demand for probiotic solutions for the Human Health area in all geographic areas.
Sales from the Color Division have grown in local currencies by a record 12%. The strong trend towards a shift to natural colors driven by consumer preferences is the main reason for the growth. In addition Chr. Hansen has launched a number of new
products including a natural white color which has been very favourably received by the market.
EBITDA before special items improved by 19% and EBIT by 30% due to increased volumes, gross margin improvement and cautious cost management. The free cash flow developed positively and hence, net interest bearing debt was reduced further, from EUR 923 million to EUR 827 million.
In the quarter, Chr Hansen has launched several new products such as a third generation of Yo-Flex® yoghurt cultures, the new coagulation enzyme CHY-MAX® M and additional shades of natural CapColors®. The group continues to focus on
research and development and during the quarter the innovation pipeline has been further strengthened.
Expectations for the year
For the full fiscal year 2009/10, sales growth is expected to continue in line with previous years. Profitability is expected to grow faster than sales.
The owner of the company, PAI partners, is evaluating the possibility to list the company within the coming years.