Q3 results remain in downward trend

The blog’s quarterly survey of chemical industry results shows the downward trend continued in Q3. Some companies remain untouched by the mainstream problems, but they are now clearly in the minority:

• Bayer remain optimistic, and DuPont hopeful that problems are merely temporary
• But Dow now talk of a ‘new reality’ which sounds very close to the blog’s own ‘new normal’
• Asian and ME companies are also showing rising concern over developments in China

Recent weeks have given no sign of an upturn before year-end, especially as most companies increase their focus on cash management. Thus whilst we can all hope DuPont’s analysis will prove correct, the blog fears that companies need to prepare for at least an extended downturn in 2013.

When the IMF starts warning of a 1 in 6 chance of recession, then risks are clearly rising:

Akzo Nobel. “We cannot expect quick recovery of the European economy”
Arkema. “Soft demand observed in certain market segments, the challenging situation of the European economy, and the volatility of raw materials are likely to continue during Q4 and to result in the cautious management by customers of their inventories at year-end”
BASF. “In the past quarter, the outlook for the world economy has once again not improved and the uncertainty on the international capital markets continues”
BP. “Continued weakness in margins globally”
Bayer. “Sales of the high-tech materials business moved ahead…due to higher volumes overall”
CP Chems. “Global utilisation 97% in Q3….lower ethane and propane feedstock prices”
Celanese. “We are not comfortable that Europe is at the bottom and beginning to turn around”
Clariant. “The low growth environment in advanced economies and dampened domestic demand have affected the economic activities in export-oriented emerging markets like India and China”
Croda. “Market remaining weak, particularly in Europe”
DSM. “Effects of the global economic downturn”
Dow. “We recognise that these difficult conditions may have extended staying power, as the new reality is that we are operating in a slow-growth and volatile world”
Dow Corning. “Oversupply and high raw material costs challenged the company’s profits”
DuPont. “We look for this market to bottom in the first half of next year”
Eastman. “Global economic environment remains challenging as we enter the seasonally slower fourth-quarter”
Evonik. “Global economic framework is challenging and demand has weakened since the summer”
ExxonMobil. “Lower margins and unfavourable exchange rate effects”
Georgia Gulf. “Low-cost natural gas in North America will remain globally advantaged as a source of energy”
Huntsman. “Non-pigments businesses saw an increase in earnings”
INEOS. “Markets have continued to be subdued with industry sentiment remaining cautious”
LG Chem. “Stable supply raw materials and cost-saving of products despite a slowdown of global economy”
Lanxess. “Weakening demand in the tyre and automotive industries”
LyondellBasell. “Strong olefins and polyolefins demand in the Americas”
Mitsubishi. “Weaker demand in China”
Marubeni. “Weak market conditions for petrochemical products”
Nova. “Reduction in margins for its Olefins/Polyolefins business unit”
OMV. “Subdued economic environment weighs on prices”
Occidental. “Lower prices “across most product lines”
PKN Orlen. “Extensive plant shutdowns and challenging markets”
PPG. “Aggressive focus on cost reduction.”
Petkim. “Markets hit by the renewed economic downturn”
PetroChina. “Prolonged weakness of the domestic petrochemicals market”
Praxair. “Sales rose in all regions other than Europe, which suffered from weak macroeconomic conditions
Reliance. “Weakness in global economies and the resultant margin environment”
Repsol. “Wider refining margins”
SABIC. “Lower product pricing, was not offset by higher production and sales volumes”
Shell. “Chemicals earnings decreased due to rising feedstock prices in Europe, the impact of Hurricane Isaac on operations in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the global economic slowdown”
Sherwin Williams. “Selling price increases in the previous twelve months are gaining traction against the higher raw material costs”
Sinopec. “Weak demand and firmer production costs”
Solvay. “Fragile macroeconomic environment reduces visibility across markets and industries”
TOTAL. “Weak demand in Europe and a slowdown in China”
Unilever. “Continued high levels of competitive intensity, depressed economies and increasing global imbalances and uncertainty”
Versalis. “Continuing margin weakness against the backdrop of weak commodity demand”
Wacker. “The extent to which the world economy will slow remains uncertain”
Westlake. “Strong demand for ethylene derivatives and low feedstock costs”

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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