November 16, 2015 / 8:30 AM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 2-Austria's Lenzing banks on specialty fibres for profit growth

* Aims to grow EBITDA by 10 pct annually

* Wants to focus on its most profitable segment

* Plans to finance investments from own resources (Recasts, adds details)

VIENNA, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Austrian cellulose fibre maker Lenzing plans to focus more strongly on sought-after specialty fibres as part of a new strategy announced on Monday aimed at increasing its core profit by 10 percent annually until 2020.

A 10 percent increase this year would see the world's biggest maker of cellulose fibres post 2015 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of around 264 million euros ($283.3 million).

In 2014, Lenzing increased EBITDA by 24 percent -- a strong recovery after earnings in the two previous years were affected by restructuring costs and falling fibre prices due to the worldwide downturn in commodities markets.

Now the company wants to reduce its dependency on the broader market.

"We will focus more intensively on the most attractive segments in the specialty fibre business," Chief Executive Stefan Doboczky said. "Lenzing will put value before volume in the future."

With the new strategy, Lenzing is banking on an increase in demand for man-made cellulose fibres used in clothes, bed linen and facial wipes of up to 6 percent per year, based on worldwide population growth and rising prosperity in emerging markets.

Doboczky wants the company to generate 50 percent of its revenue from its specialty fibres, such as Tencel and Modal, and from viscose fibres by 2020, from 37 percent currently.

Lenzing said it planned to finance the investments needed under the strategy from its own capital, adding that it would aim for a dividend payout of up to 50 percent of net profit.

Lenzing increased its full-year outlook and reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings on Thursday; helped by positive currency effects and higher fibre prices, but warned that the global economic outlook remained volatile. ($1 = 0.9319 euros) (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle, Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich and Francois Murphy; editing by Adrian Croft)

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