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ZURICH, April 27 (Reuters) - Clariant's first-quarter sales and operating profit beat expectations as the Swiss chemicals maker said it was bolstered by acquisitions and robust demand in regions including Europe, Asia and North America.
Sales rose 9 percent in local currency to 1.6 billion Swiss francs ($1.61 billion), it said in a statement, ahead of the average analyst estimate of 1.56 billion francs in a Reuters poll.
Operating profit before exceptional items rose 10 percent to 250 million francs, above the 235 million franc poll estimate.
Clariant has been helped by acquisitions including in the United States that added 3 percent to sales and by strong demand for products in its plastics and coatings and care chemicals division that supplies ingredients for soaps and consumer products.
The company confirmed its 2017 outlook, which calls for continued local currency growth, progression in profitability and operating cash flow generation.
"Our focus on local currency growth and profitability improvement is clearly reflected in these encouraging results," Chief Executive Hariolf Kottman said.
"We are on a solid path towards achieving our sales expansion targets, a continued progression in absolute EBITDA and EBITDA margin before exceptional items as well as operating cash flow generation, in spite of what continues to be a challenging market environment in specific business areas.”
Clariant also stuck to its mid-term target of an EBITDA margin before exceptional items in the range of 16 percent to 19 percent and a return on invested capital (ROIC) above the peer group average.
$1 = 0.9931 Swiss francs Reporting by John Miller, Editing by Michael Shields