Companies see strong H1 earnings and volume

The blog is awarding itself a pat on the back this morning. Last December, it made the bold forecast (given the widespread gloom at the time), that chemical companies would see “a strong H1“. Today’s regular snapshot of Q2 chemical company results certainly seems to confirm its optimism.

Almost all companies reported stronger revenues and earnings. But there is an interesting divergence in outlook between those companies focused on solutions and innovation, and those where low-cost leadership in commodity markets is essential.

Thus Bayer claimed that “MaterialScience has left the crisis behind“, whilst the new management at Clariant worried about “a weaker economy“. BASF, the industry No 1, was relatively cautious, forecasting the recovery would “continue at a moderate pace“.

One interesting juxtaposition of views (given alphabetically as always) contrasts Celanese’s upbeat assessment of H2 demand, versus that of the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation, which expects a slowdown.

Air Products. “Operating leverage across the company would continue to drive margin improvement”.
Albemarle. “Global economic indicators, industry trends and customer order patterns pointed toward a strong Q3 with a typical seasonal contraction in Q4″.
Ashland. “Expected sustained, gradual growth of the overall economy”.
BASF. “Expected the economic recovery to continue at a moderate pace in the second half of 2010. We expect our sales to grow in 2010 and outpace global chemical production.”
Bayer. “MaterialScience has left the crisis behind and saw business expand more strongly than expected. Volumes have returned to the pre-crisis level”
BP. “Chemicals production increased to 3.92m tonnes in Q2 from 2.83m tonnes in Q2 2009, and 3.81m tonnes in Q1 2010″.
Celanese. “Optimism came from Celanese’s order book in China, which was ‘strong and stable’”.
China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation. Demand was “expected to slow down in the second half of the year amid a deceleration in China’s economy.”
Clariant. “We predict a softening in demand compared to H1 as a result of a weaker economy and the traditional seasonal effects of our businesses.”
Croda. “It was difficult to predict whether the trend would continue. We would normally expect to see volumes in the second half below those seen in the first half due to holiday shutdowns in our customers’ operations”.
Cytec. “Sales revenue grew among all segments as the company focused on higher profit-margin business. The company also benefited from the cost reduction plan which laid off 600 workers, shut plants and froze salaries.”
Dow Chemical. “Expects a sustained global recovery led by Asia, which would be slowly helped by the US recovery, but with Europe lagging”.
DuPont. “H2 growth rates would slow down from strong year-over-year growth in H1.”
<a href="http://www.icis.com/Articles/2010/07/29/9380690/us-eastman-boosts-q2-profit-to-148m-as-sales-jump-38.html “>Eastman. “Expected volumes would reflect typical seasonal declines in the second half of the year and that raw material and energy costs would be less volatile.”
ExxonMobil. “Prime chemical product sales were 6.5 million tonnes, up 3.7% from Q2 2009″.
WR Grace. “Grace is well positioned to succeed in this challenging environment.”
INEOS. “The Group has continued to focus on cash management and liquidity. Demand for olefins was strong, resulting in improved margins in the quarter, particularly in butadiene. Polymer margins also experienced some improvement from the first quarter.”
Johnson Matthey. “Expect results will be lower than Q1 due to normal seasonal factors, an expected end to recent stock building by the car companies and the potential impact on consumer confidence of economic uncertainty, particularly in Europe”.
Kemira. Expects “demand to develop favourably” this year.
LG Chemical. “Expected a positive Q3 result due to strong seasonal demand and an increase in sales due to product expansion in petrochemicals”.
Lubrizol. “Further recovery in demand, underlying market growth and favourable order patterns”.
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical. “Increased sales of methanol following the start-up of a new plant amid improved market conditions.”
Mitsui. “Improved demand for PE and PP helped the company raise its petrochemical product prices which offset high feedstock costs.”
Petro-Rabigh. “Total sales for June 2010 have significantly increased compared to previous months”.
PPG. “Demand levels are more than 10% below 2008 pre-recession levels. We anticipate a continued, gradual, global economic recovery.”
Quaker. “Earnings will continue to be strong but will be below the first half due to a softening in demand and the lag effect on margins as we recover higher raw material costs”.
Rhodia. “A positive contribution of €66m from “strong pricing power”.
Shell. “Saw higher volumes, margins and operating rates”.
Sherwin Williams. “Remained “cautiously optimistic” about the stability of end market demand”.
Sigma-Aldrich. “Market conditions were expected to continue the “modest improvement” seen in H1″.
Solvay. “Saw better utilization rates in the context of a more sustained global activity than last year”.
Sumitomo. “Increased sales due to improved market conditions overseas had allowed the company to raise the prices of its petrochemical products which offset the high costs of naphtha and other feedstocks.”
Syngenta. “Demand for our products has increased significantly in 2010, following a 2009 season characterised by low pest pressure and credit constraint.”
TOTAL. “An overall improvement in market conditions and benefits realised through cost-cutting measures”.
Trelleborg. “Overall demand expected to remain in line with or “slightly better” than Q2″.
Wacker. “Robust sales across all its business segments”.

About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts. Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.

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