Celanese execs predict more earnings decline in second half

24 July 2012 20:26  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Celanese executives on Tuesday said a tough economic environment around the world would continue to hamper earnings in the second half of the year.

“We anticipate the ongoing challenging economic environment in Europe and the current growth rates in Asia will continue through the remainder of 2012,” said Celanese CEO Mark Rohr said during an earnings conference call.

On Monday, Celanese reported second-quarter earnings rose 3% year on year while sales declined 4% because of lower pricing in its acetyls intermediate division and unfavourable currency valuations.

The lower pricing in acetyls stems from oversupply of the material, particularly in Asia. Last week, Celanese idled for the second time this year a 600,000 tonne/year acetic acid plant in Singapore.

“Clearly, that part of the world is awash in acetic acid,” Rohr said. “We don’t need all those assets operational today.”

Chief financial officer Steve Sterin said “trough-like conditions” in the company’s acetyls markets should continue for the remainder of 2012.

Rohr touted Celanese’s new fuel ethanol projects proposed in Indonesia that were announced last week and fielded numerous questions on the company’s proposed methanol plant in Texas announced in June.

However, Rohr said at the beginning of the call that he would not talk about Celanese’s relationship with its current methanol supplier, Southern Chemical Corp (SCC), because of ongoing litigation with SCC.

SCC has a 10-year supply agreement with Celanese that currently is the focus of a civil trial in Houston.

Celanese said in June that it will build its own methanol plant at its acetyls complex in Clear Lake near Houston, to begin running in 2015.

“Economically, it’s a good thing for us to do,” Rohr said in the call.

By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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