March 6, 2018 / 8:27 AM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-Evonik to sell methacrylates unit to focus on faster-growing sectors

* Q4 adj EBITDA up 8 pct to 474 mln euros (poll: 479 mln)

* Aims to focus on faster-growing specialty chemicals

* In drive to overcome weak stock-market valuation (Adds details on unit to be divested, 2018 guidance)

By Ludwig Burger

FRANKFURT, March 6 (Reuters) - Germany’s Evonik said on Tuesday it plans to sell its methacrylates plastics unit, which makes clear acrylic sheet, as it looks to focus on faster-growing sectors such as feed additives and rubber silica for tyres.

Evonik derived about 1.5 billion euros in 2017 sales from clear acrylic sheet and the methacrylate chemicals, accounting for about 10 percent of its 2017 revenue of 14.4 billion.

“We are concentrating on our four defined growth engines,” said Chief Executive Christian Kullmann, citing ingredients for healthcare and personal care products, smart materials, additives and animal nutrition.

Helped by its recent purchases of additives businesses from Air Products and of J. M. Huber’s silica operations, Evonik on Tuesday reported an 8 percent gain to 474 million euros ($585 million) in fourth-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) adjusted for one-offs.

That was slightly below the 479 million expected by analysts in a Reuters poll as weak prices for poultry feed additives outweighed strong demand for engineering plastics and rubber silica.

Evonik in November said it would slash administrative costs as profit margins narrowed and after recent acquisitions accounted for most of its earnings growth.

The company, which is controlled by a state-backed foundation, lags peers such as BASF, Lanxess or DSM in trading multiples of expected core earnings.

Evonik has targeted an adjusted group EBITDA for 2018 of 2.4-2.6 billion euros, up from 2.36 billion last year. Analysts’ current consensus is 2.46 billion.

$1 = 0.8099 euros Reporting by Ludwig Burger; editing by Arno Schuetze and Jason Neely

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