US housing recovery continues, bodes well for MDI – Huntsman

30 April 2013 22:17  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Huntsman continues to see signs of a sustained housing recovery in the US, a trend that bodes well for methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI), the company's CEO said on Tuesday.

During the first quarter, the company's largest MDI market in the US, composite wood products, grew by double digits, said Peter Huntsman, CEO.

Huntsman made his comments during an earnings conference call.

The company also successfully raised prices to offset a run-up in MDI's largest raw material, benzene, he said. During the quarter, benzene had risen by about 20%.

Huntsman also saw double-digit growth in Asia because of more demanding energy-efficiency building codes, which is increasing demand for insulation made from MDI, Huntsman said.

The company also benefitted from strong Chinese demand for automobiles, he said.

In Europe, Huntsman saw soft demand in the northern part of the continent – the weakest since the region's financial crisis, Huntsman said. He attributed the weaker demand, in part, to bad winter weather.

The decline also reflected lower demand from automobiles in Europe, he said.

Currently, MDI operating rates are in the very high 80s, with some parts of the world reaching 90%, Huntsman said.

Looking ahead, the company expects pricing and demand to gradually improve in the MDI market, Huntsman said.

The company should achieve a good part of that growth by making a wider variety of MDI grades and selling it into a wider market, he said. "As we continue to push that, we are going to see a higher quality business develop from that, and I hope longer term, take some of the cyclicality out of MDI," he added.

By: Al Greenwood
+1 713 525 2645

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