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Clariant profit suffers on COVID-19 hit, sees slight fourth quarter rebound

The logo of Swiss specialty chemicals company Clariant is seen at the company's headquarters in Pratteln, Switzerland October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss specialty chemicals maker Clariant on Thursday predicted a slight rebound for the rest of 2020 as cost-cutting measures help temper the COVID-19 hit to auto, textile and oil industry clients that hurt its third-quarter performance.

Third-quarter operating profit (EBITDA) slipped 16% to 127 million Swiss francs ($140 million), with the profit margin narrowing to 14.2% from 14.5%. Sales slipped to 893 million francs from 1.04 billion francs in the year-earlier period.

Revenue through September fell in all three of Clariant’s divisions -- natural resources, catalysis and care chemicals -- as oil demand weakened and markets in Europe, North America and the Middle East were volatile. Clariant is trimming its workforce over the next two years to reduce costs.

“Clariant anticipates that the COVID-19 pandemic will have a continued, but slightly less negative impact on sales and profitability in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the

third quarter,” it said in a statement.

It added that the planned divestment of its pigments division is progressing, as it is “preparing the rightsizing of the organization.”

($1 = 0.9070 Swiss francs)

Reporting by John Miller, editing by John Revill, Michael Shields and Kim Coghill