InterviewStyrolution will gain in 2013 on own efforts - CEO Gualdoni

27 February 2013 18:40  [Source: ICIS news]

Styrolution chief executive Roberto GualdoniLONDON (ICIS)--Styrolution will perform better in 2013 than in 2012 but largely on its own efforts, CEO Roberto Gualdoni said on Wednesday.

The styrenics producer is not expecting much in the way of demand growth in Europe this year and is waiting to see whether styrenic polymers markets come back more strongly in China. US markets for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polystyrene (PS) and styrene monomer (SM) are showing signs of improvement.

“2013 is going to be better than 2012 based on our own initiatives,” Gualdoni said in an interview with ICIS.

The Styrolution CEO was pleased with the Q4 2012 outturn, which saw sales rise by 5.4% from the very difficult period of 2011 to €1.4bn ($1.8bn). The Q4 net income was €8.8m versus a reported loss in the 2011 fourth quarter of €44.5m.

Gualdoni said that Q4 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) at €84m from €11m were significantly better “due to better underlying business, positive flow through and the absence of a force majeure effect”. Full-year 2012 EBITDA were €335m from €317m.

“North America was very good in the fourth quarter,” Gualdoni said of the ABS business there. Europe was quite sluggish, but polystyrene had recovered from a segment-wide slump in the second and third quarters that saw demand in the key Italian market drop by between a quarter and a third.

The US is doing very well thus far in the first quarter, the Styrolution CEO added. European PS demand was down year on year in the fourth quarter but had improved from the middle of 2012. Styrolution believes that stronger growth in China markets could become apparent in the next few weeks, although Gualdoni said that Asia is “quite sluggish” at the moment.

Styrolution expects lower levels of demand growth than historically this year in China but potentially sees China GDP growth of 7-7.5% for 2013.

The company is offering customers lower-cost alternatives to some high-end engineering plastics blends, such as polycarbonate ABS (PCABS) through a flexible production system, Gualdoni said. The drive can help customers, particularly in the automobile industry, de-engineer certain parts and reduce costs.

Styrolution has reorganised its portfolio to reflect this focus on polymers regionally and created a standalone business unit for styrene monomer (SM), which its sees as a globally traded commodity.

The Q1 2013 financial report will reflect this changed structure.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Nigel Davis
+44 20 8652 3214

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