18 December 2006 00:00 [Source: ICB Americas]
What a year it's been! Profits are up, M&A activity is hitting record highs and Congress has passed watershed legislation to open up offshore areas for natural gas exploration.
Our magazine has gone through profound changes this year, reflecting the changing dynamic global marketplace. Rebranded as ICIS Chemical Business Americas, the former CMR has evolved into the premier weekly chemical publication featuring news, analysis and insights from around the globe.
We strive to bring you important groundbreaking features. This week we unveil our Top 40 most powerful players in the global chemical industry (see page 18).
Some names will be familiar, and some will stir controversy. But no doubt these are the folks you'll want to keep your eye on. They are poised to shape the course of the industry.
And who would have thought a few years back that the good times would roll? Just three years ago, the industry was mired in overcapacity, and dire predictions on the future weighed on the collective consciousness.
Particularly in North America, where natural gas prices spiked to unprecedented levels amid lackluster global demand and too much capacity, many producers suffered through what they called "the worst downturn in chemical industry history."
The North American chemical industry was deemed to be no longer competitive in the global marketplace, and was considered dead in the water. Wall Street rushed to cut peak profit estimates, warning that the next upturn would be shorter in both duration and magnitude.
Well, as it happened, the upturn has lasted longer than anyone had imagined, and with stronger profit margins, matching or exceeding the peak of 1994-1995.
A good part of the reason for the strong upcycle was the pessimism, not to mention the high natural gas prices, that caused the industry to stop building in North America. That, combined with renewed Chinese demand and a rebound in the US industrial economy, led to an exceptional time for the industry.
But now we stand at the precipice. Are the good times over? Will 2007 be the start of a multiyear downturn?
Look to our Jan. 8, 2007 issue, where we dust off our crystal ball and give you predictions and forecasts for 2007.
Thank you for all your support through the peaks and troughs. I'd like to wish everyone a happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year!
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