IHS Chemical Week


Chemical industry weekly news roundup, 4 October

October 4, 2013 | By LINDSAY FROST

This Week in CW:

Monsanto reports a wider-than-expected loss for its seasonally weak quarter and missed analyst forecasts as year-over-year (YOY) gains in corn seed and glyphosate sales were not enough to offset steep declines in soybean and vegetables. The company posted a net loss of $249 million (47 cts/share) for the quarter ended 31 August, compared with a net loss of $229 million (44 cts/share) in the year-ago quarter. Analysts had expected a net loss of 43 cts/share, according to a consensus of estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters (New York). Sales increased 4.9% YOY, to $2.2 billion. Monsanto also announced an agreement to acquire agriculture analytics and risk-management firm The Climate Corporation for $930 million.

Brazilian businessman Marcelo Odebrecht plans to invest about $8.1 billion in Mexico over the next five years, according to a statement from Mexico's president. Marcelo Odebrecht met with the president, Enrique Peña Nieto, on 1 October. Odebrecht, who leads an industrial conglomerate that carries his name, says his organization plans to invest in petrochemicals, renewable energy, ethanol and sugar production, and highway concessions. The Odebrecht group (Salvador, Brazil) has already invested $1.8 billion of the total in studies and projects, the statement says. However, the Ministry of Economy (Mexico City) says that Mexico has received just under $1.2 billion in direct foreign investment from Brazil since 1999.

BASF, the third-largest agricultural chemicals producer, behind Syngenta and Bayer CropScience, has raised its 2020 crop protection sales targets to €8 billion ($10.8 billion) from the previously announced €6 billion, which it now hopes to reach by 2015, the company announced today. Speaking at a press briefing at the company’s crop protection headquarters in Limburgerhof, Germany, Markus Heldt, president/crop protection at BASF, said that these targets will be achieved through organic growth, including higher capital expenditure (capex), raised peak sales potential from its R&D pipeline, and increased sales in emerging markets. BASF will, at the same time, continue to expand its portfolio of solutions and increase initiatives that support growers with their overall farm managements.

Chevron Phillips Chemical’s (CPChem; The Woodlands, TX) board has approved the company's US Gulf Coast (USGC) petrochemicals project, the company announced on 3 October. First announced in March 2011, the project comprises a 1.5-million m.t./year ethane cracker and two 500,000 m.t./year polyethylene facilities. CPChem says it has awarded an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the cracker, which will be built at the Cedar Bayou plant in Baytown, TX, to a joint venture between JGC (USA) and Fluor Enterprises.

Around the Web:

CNN Money reported on Thursday that the government would not release its key monthly jobs report as originally scheduled for today, the Department of Labor confirmed. Citing a "lapse in funding" amid the government shutdown, Department of Labor spokesman Stephan Barr said the report has not yet been rescheduled for release at a later date. The only other time the jobs report was delayed was in the previous government shutdown in January 1996, when it was released two weeks late. Independent economists were expecting the new data to show the unemployment rate remained at 7.3% in September. They were also predicting the economy added 183,000 jobs last month, up slightly from 169,000 jobs in August.

After largely shrugging off the first few days of a US government shutdown, US markets finally fell due to worries over Washington gridlock, BBC reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and Nasdaq all closed down by close to 1% on Thursday. The decline followed the release of a report by the US Treasury warning of the "catastrophic" impact of a failure to raise the nation's borrowing limit. The debt ceiling must be raised by 17 October to avoid a debt default. The Dow Jones index fell 136 points, closing below 15,000, after surpassing the symbolic milestone on 9 September.

According to Phys.org, The US government shutdown puts international science collaboration in peril and could have far-reaching impacts on innovation and research, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Office of Government Relations said Wednesday. The majority of staff at US science agencies are affected by the shutdown, with half of the Department of Health and Human Services and three quarters of the National Institutes of Health on unpaid leave. The US space agency has gone almost completely dark, except for support for the International Space Station and its astronauts as well as for other satellite missions now underway.

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