By Kari Williamson

Net sales, however, were up 2% to SEK1813m. Demand was up in Asia and North America, but down in Europe.

Höganäs says the 2012 results must be seen in light of the fact that Q1 2011 was exceptionally strong with 11% volume growth.

CEO Alrik Danielsson comments: “As expected, the market was fairly weak in Europe in the first quarter, while the recovery in Asia continued after a 2011 hit by tsunami and flooding. On a volatile market, we succeeded in safeguarding sales, earnings and cash flow, despite a notable negative currency effect.

“Sales volumes were somewhat lower than 211, but comparisons should consider that the first quarter of 2011 was exceptionally strong, when we reported an 11% volume growth on the first quarter of 2010. Meanwhile, we are pleased that the outlook for 2012 is now somewhat more positive than the view we had last autumn.”

Höganäs says it no longer thinks a significant downturn in global industrial activity due to the debt crisis is likely.

The company is also looking into extending the use of lasers to open up new market opportunities.

Danielsson says: “Our investment in research and development are still generating results. Jointly with an Indian customer, we have extended the usage of lasers for surface coating to also function for valve seals. This opens new market segments for our surface coating powders, in the automotive and other industries. It also reinforces our conviction that our focus on building know-how in the laser surface coating segment is correct.”