US Eastman expects to see lacklustre GDP growth this year - CEO

25 April 2014 16:41 Source:ICIS News

Eastman GDP growthHOUSTON (ICIS)--Eastman Chemical expects global economic growth to be "lacklustre" this year, the CEO of the US-based chemicals firm said on Friday.

The company started out the year with no year-over-year revenue growth in the first quarter ended 31 March and expects its 2014 full-year revenues to trend in line with global GDP growth, Mark Costa told analysts in a conference call.

Eastman’s first quarter was impacted by weak demand in China, particularly for solvents, tyres and plasticizer product lines, Costa added.

Eastman’s sales in the Asia-Pacific region were up 1% year over year to $601m in the first quarter. The region accounted for 26% of Eastman’s overall first-quarter sales of $2.3bn.

As for Europe, the region was "solid" but did not show strong volume growth in the first quarter, Costa said.

"We are seeing good strong growth in automotive demand, and we are seeing good recovery and strength in the tyre-related demand [in Europe]," he said.

Eastman’s sales in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region were flat at $514m in the first quarter.

Costa added that Eastman’s second-quarter revenues start out strong, with the company seeing growth in markets such as transportation, building and construction and consumables.

Longer-term, Eastman’s sales growth should outpace global GDP growth, he added.

"We remain committed to our strategy of delivering consistent earnings growth with our portfolio of specialty businesses," he said.

"We are well-positioned to leverage our world-class technology platforms in cellulosics, polyesters, olefins and PVB [polyvinyl butyral] into new applications as we address global macro-trends such energy efficiency and a move towards increased health and wellness," he said.

Two thirds of Eastman’s revenues come from product lines where the company holds the No 1 or No 2 market position, he added.

Eastman makes rubber additives, cellulosic polymers, polyesters and hydrocarbon resins as well as non-phthalate plasticizers.

It also makes PVB and its Tritan copolyester.

By Stefan Baumgarten