Hexion confident on outlook for Germany, northern Europe

12 May 2010 17:05  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--Hexion Specialty Chemicals is confident about the outlook for Germany’s economy and for northern Europe in general, but southern Europe remains depressed, chief executive Craig Morrison said on Wednesday.

Germany in general remains in a fairly healthy situations; it’s much like the US … in the sense that it has a fairly constant, consistently-paced recovery,” Morrison said in response to analysts' questions during the company’s first-quarter results conference call.

However, the UK and much of southern Europe remained in a “pretty depressed state”.

Luckily, Hexion’s business was heavily skewed towards northern Europe, he said.

Germany's economy grew by a better-than-expected 0.2% in the first quarter, sequentially from the 2009 fourth quarter, while EU first-quarter growth was also 0.2%, according to separate ICIS reports on Wednesday. 

Overall, Morrison said Hexion remained optimistic that its volumes would continue to recover in 2010.

The company earlier on Wednesday reported a sharp improvement in first-quarter operating income as sales rose 28% from the 2009 first quarter.

Volumes rose 25% from the 2009 first quarter and 6% sequentially from the 2009 fourth quarter. Most of the volume growth was driven by the improved economy, “and not just restocking,” Morrison said.

However, Hexion was concerned about the pace of recent raw material inflation and was “actively pursuing price action” to offset this trend, he said.

Nevertheless, Morrison said he was “fairly optimistic” about Hexion's ability to pass on increased raw material costs to customers, albeit with a time lag.

($1 = €0.79)

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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