* Confirms 2014 EBITDA target of 1.8-2.1 bln euros
* Q1 EBITDA 463 mln euros vs average forecast 478 mln
* Might curb investment programme by up to 15 pct
* Eyes acquisitions above 1 bln euros
* Points to uncertainty in Ukraine
(Adds comments by CEO, analysts and share price)
By Kirsti Knolle
FRANKFURT, May 6 Chemicals maker Evonik
posted first quarter earnings down nearly a quarter,
hurt by falling prices in Asia, and said it may cut its 6
billion euro ($8.3 billion) investment programme by up to 15
Evonik, which has also been hit by weak currencies in some
emerging markets, said it expected prices to stay at least
stable in large areas of its portfolio - which includes
superabsorbents for baby care, amino acids for animal nutrition
and butadiene for tyre production - but added that in some
businesses they would probably fall further.
Germany's second-largest chemicals maker behind BASF
did confirm its full-year forecast, but suggested it
was likely to cut its 6 billion euro investment programme,
launched in 2012.
Chief Executive Klaus Engel said that spending could be
delayed and the programme might be reduced by 10-15 percent.
"We are waiting in some major projects here for better
market conditions to go ahead with further spending," Engel said
in a call.
The programme has been seen as key to Evonik's 2018 EBITDA
target of 3 billion euros. Some analysts expected around 700
million euros to be contributed by these investments.
Engel said Evonik would now look for acquisitions worth more
than 1 billion euros, to strengthen its portfolio. He did not
rule out larger takeovers, nor using equity financing. Minor
acquisitions might come in the course of the year, he said.
Evonik's shares dropped 4.1 percent by 1115 GMT to make them
the biggest decliners in the German midcap index MDAX
which was up 0.4 percent.
Kepler Chevreux analyst Martin Roediger said Evonik's major
shareholders - public sector trust RAG with a 68 percent stake
and private equity firm CVC with an 18 percent share -
would take a close look on any potential acquisition.
Evonik said it still expected adjusted full-year earnings
before interest, tax, amortisation and depreciation (EBITDA) of
between 1.8 and 2.1 billion euros on slightly rising sales. It
reported EBITDA of 2 billion euros last year.
Costs of bringing new plants on-stream and negative currency
effects could drag on full-year results, the company said, also
pointing to uncertainties in emerging markets and the increasing
political tension in Ukraine.
Together with its Russian joint venture partner Varshavsky
Group, Evonik is building a new production plant for amino acids
in the Rostow-on-Don region of Russia, close to the eastern
Ukrainian border. The plant is due to come into service in
2014/15. Evonik is the minority partner in this joint venture.
For the three months to March Evonik posted a drop in
adjusted EBITDA to 463 million euros from 606 million euros a
year ago on 1 percent higher organic sales of 3.2 billion euros.
The average forecast from analysts polled by Reuters was for
adjusted EBITDA of 478 million euros on sales of 3.23 billion
($1 = 0.7205 Euros)
(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Sophie Walker)