Speciality chemicals group Croda International Croda International Plc (LON:CRDA) today provided an update on first quarter trading. Croda is a world leader in natural based speciality chemicals. Its activities comprise: i) Consumer Care (including personal care, health care and crop care), and ii) Industrial Specialities (including home care, base oleochemicals, additives for polymers, polymers and coatings, lubricants and lubricant additives, and processed vegetable oils).

Accordin to the latest statement, group sales increased 14.7% to £264.7m in the first quarter with overall volumes increasing 26%. This came despite adverse currency translation of 4.1%. Group pretax profit from continuing operations almost doubled to £42.4m (2009: £21.7m). On a segmental basis, Consumer Care operating profit was up 20.6% to £34.6m (2009: £28.7m) despite challenging 2009 comparatives. Underlying sales increased strongly in both Personal Care and Health Care but Crop Care sales were down in line with the market. Overall sales increased to £130m, up 1.4% on last year's figure of £128.2m, despite the adverse currency translation. Industrial Specialities reversed last year's £2.4m loss to record an operating profit of £10.5m with almost all areas seeing significant revenue and profit increases. Volumes increased dramatically and this is driving the 31% increase in revenues to £134.7m (2009: £102.6m).

As a consequence of the cash restructuring costs from the closures of both Bromborough and Wilton and adverse currency translation of £5.8m, net debt was little changed from the year end at £292.7m.

Martin Flower, Chairman of Croda International Plc, said:

"This is a very strong performance across the business and reflects both robust demand for our products globally and the benefits of the cost cutting activity we have undertaken since the acquisition of Uniqema. However, the buoyant trading conditions we have experienced have been seen across the chemical sector, suggesting an element of restocking. Furthermore, prior year comparatives do get tougher in the second half. We also expect to see raw material inflation begin to increase in many areas. Notwithstanding the above, the robust trading has continued into quarter two and we remain confident of achieving significant progress throughout the remainder of 2010."

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