US Celanese swings to $20m Q1 loss as sales drop 38%

28 April 2009 13:54  [Source: ICIS news]

A Celanese plant in Pampa TexasTORONTO (ICIS news)--Celanese reported a first-quarter net loss of $20m (€15m), compared with a profit of $145m during the same quarter a year ago, and a 38% decrease in sales, the US-based chemicals major said on Tuesday.

Sales for the three months ended 31 March were $1.1bn, compared with $1.8bn in the 2008 first quarter, with the decline primarily due to lower volumes on continued weak global demand and lower pricing for acetyl products, the company said.

Operating profit was $27m, down from $234m in the 2008 first quarter, as the decrease in net sales more than offset lower raw material and energy costs, as well as reduced manufacturing, selling, general and administrative expenses, the company said.

“Although general economic conditions at the consumer level remained weak, we began to realise the positive impacts of reduced inventory destocking throughout our customers' supply chains as the quarter progressed,” CEO David Weidman said.

“Our cash position remains very strong and we continue to expect positive free cash flow in 2009,” he added.

As for the near-term outlook, Celanese was not expecting any significant improvement in end-consumer demand throughout 2009, Weidman said.

“However, as we moved out of the first quarter, we believe that the majority of inventory destocking through our customer supply chains is behind us, with the possible exception of the automotive and electronics industries,” he said.

($1 = €0.77)

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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