(Corrects spelling of CFO's surname throughout)
* Q1 sales up 2 pct $4.7 bln, in line with poll forecast
* Devaluation of Ukraine's hryvnia, Russia's rouble weigh
* Expects weak currencies to knock about $100 mln off FY
* Confirms full-year targets
By Caroline Copley
ZURICH, April 16 Syngenta AG, the
world's largest maker of crop chemicals, expects weak emerging
markets currencies to have a bigger hit on full-year earnings
than previously assumed, it said on Wednesday, as it posted
higher first-quarter sales.
Adverse currency moves knocked 3 percent off quarterly
sales, which rose 2 percent to $4.7 billion, in line with the
average forecast in a Reuters poll.
Excluding exchange rate moves, sales increased 5 percent.
Syngenta now expects weaker currencies to knock around $100
million off full-year earnings before interest, tax,
depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), compared with an earlier
forecast for a negative impact of $50 million.
Chief Financial Officer John Ramsay said the main impact had
come from the devaluation of Ukraine's hryvnia, as fears of
all-out war with Russia and a worsening domestic economy have
seen the currency lose a third of its value versus the dollar
"What we've done there is we've put our prices up. For
Ukraine, we've recovered probably about two thirds of the
currency loss through pricing," Ramsay told Reuters in an
The Swiss company, which makes products to kill weeds and
bugs as well as genetically modified seeds, gets about 4-5
percent of its total sales from the Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS), which includes Ukraine.
Despite the crisis in the region, Ramsay said volumes had
held up well, growing by a double digit percentage at constant
exchange rates in the CIS region, mainly driven by Russia. In
Ukraine, volumes are just about at last year's levels, he said.
Elsewhere, Syngenta said unseasonably mild weather in Europe
helped the planting season get off to a strong start and sales
in its Europe, Africa and Middle East region rose 10 percent.
This helped compensate for a 7 percent fall in sales in
North America, where arctic weather conditions have delayed the
start of planting. Ramsay said the cold weather would have to
persist for some weeks longer before it became a major problem.
For the full year, Syngenta expects integrated sales to grow
6 percent at constant exchange rates. The company confirmed its
full-year guidance for growing gross margins and an increase in
free cash flow before acquisitions to around $1.5 billion.
(Editing by Mark Potter and Erica Billingham)