29 July 2010 17:36 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--US major soda ash producer FMC Corp could bring its Granger plant back on line in 2011 as global demand for US soda ash increases, the company said on Thursday.
The four major US soda ash producers manufacture a combined 11m short ton/year, with more than half shipped internationally. With sales to Asia and Latin America increasing, US producers are running at or near capacity, FMC president, CEO and director Pierre Brondeau told investors.
“This strong rebound in domestic and export markets has moved US producers to near full utilisation,” Brondeau said. “We expect tight conditions to last through the total of the year.”
Brondeau said FMC could bring its 500,000 short ton/year Granger plant in Wyoming at least partially back on line in 2011 “if demand justified it”.
The company took the plant offline in the first quarter of 2009 amid a sudden drop in sales during the global recession.
In China, the main competitor for soda ash sales in Asia, increased energy prices could boost US soda ash sales in the region for at least the short term, Brondeau said.
“Input costs have increased for Chinese soda ash producers,” Brondeau said. “Chinese soda ash export volumes were reduced by 40% from last year, [but] their soda ash volumes could increase in the second half [of 2010].”
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based FMC reported on Wednesday a second-quarter net income of $65.7m, down 5.2% from $69.3m for the same time last year as a result of taxes, environmental costs and other one-time charges.
The company’s industrial chemicals segment - which includes its soda ash operations - made $29.9m, up 121%. FMC attributed the increase to higher volumes in soda ash, particularly in export markets.
FMC said it expected full-year earnings at $4.55-4.80/share, up from the $4.35-$4.75/share it forecast at the beginning of the year. Revenue for its industrial chemicals segment would remain the same as in the previous year as reduced selling prices offset strong sales volumes, it said.($1 = €0.77)
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