29 January 2009 22:09 [Source: ICIS news]
TORONTO (ICIS news)--NOVA Chemicals expects the first quarter of 2009 to be “a hell of a lot better than the  fourth quarter," CEO Jeff Lipton told analysts in a conference call on Thursday.
His remarks came as the Canadian petrochemicals producer saw its share price plummet almost 17% to $3.1 in ?xml:namespace>
Lipton said orders picked up in December and NOVA saw “very strong buying”, even though there were significant inventory draw-downs through the petrochemicals chain.
“Our view is, that even with inventories continuing to go down, which is the worst case, we are going to see a significant pick-up in orders,” Lipton said.
“We are getting the same kind of feedback from our customers and from our marketing people that are out there,” he said.
Lipton also said that NOVA had some “high-margin opportunities” as a result of competitors' shutting down capacities permanently.
NOVA president and chief operation officer Chris Pappas said the company's NOVA’s export business for the first quarter was looking “quite strong.”
“All around the world, we see steady demand for polyethylene, and domestically we see very good demand as well,” Pappas, who will take over as CEO effective 1 May, added.
Longer-term, NOVA was very confident on the growth prospects of polyethylene, especially in food packaging in emerging economies such as India and China, Lipton said.
Lipton also said that he expected shutdowns and consolidation in the styrencis side of the industry to speed up in the next six months, a development from which NOVA’s stryenics joint venture with INEOS would benefit.
Commenting on NOVA’s financial position and its negotiations with lenders, the company expected conditions to improve in the course of the year.
“We are comfortable about the next steps we have to take, as are our banks,” he said.
"They [the banks] fully understand our business, they have had a long relationship with us ... they understand our competitive advantages," Lipton said
($1 = €0.76)
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