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Adverse currency movements offset organic sales growth
Bekaert achieved consolidated sales of € 1 052 million for the first quarter of 2018, down less than 1% from the very strong first quarter of 2017. Our consolidated sales reflected strong adverse currency movements (-6%) and a net negative effect of mergers, acquisitions and divestments (-2%), which together more than offset the organic sales growth of +7%.
The aggregate effect of passed-on wire rod price increases and price-mix boosted sales by +6%. Our drive to pass on wire rod price increases helped underpin a positive pricing impact but affected the volumes in certain sectors. The oil and gas markets remained difficult and demand from solar markets for loose abrasive sawing wire was far below the level of the first quarter of 2017. Overall, volume growth added +1% to Bekaert's top line thanks to continued growth in automotive, mining and specialty steel wire markets.
Compared with the same period last year, most currencies lost value against the euro, leading to a total negative consolidated top line impact of -6%. The average exchange rate decline of the US dollar (-15%), the Chinese renminbi (-7%) and the Chilean peso (-6%) accounted for most of the currency effect on Bekaert's consolidated sales.
Combined sales increased by 2% to € 1 251 million. The organic growth (+10%) was almost entirely offset by adverse currency movements (-8%).The devaluation of the Brazilian real by almost 20% affected combined sales by more than € 30 million compared with the same quarter last year.