IHS Chemical Week


Chemical industry weekly news roundup, 10 January

11:02 AM MST | January 10, 2014 | By LINDSAY FROST

This week in CW:

DuPont announced on 9 January that executive v.p. Mark Vergnano will serve as CEO of its performance chemicals upon completion of the planned spin-off of the unit from DuPont. The spin off, which will establish the business as separate publicly traded company, is expected to occur in second-quarter 2015. BC Chong and Thierry Vanlancker will continue to lead the titanium technologies and chemicals, and fluoroproducts businesses, respectively, within the performance chemicals company. The performance chemicals unit posted 2012 sales of $7.2 billion and operating earnings of $1.8 billion.

A few companies began reporting earnings this week. Strong soybean and glyphosate sales helped Monsanto offset lower corn results and exceed analysts’ estimates for its fiscal first quarter. The company reports net income of $373 million for the quarter ended 30 November 2013, 6.9% higher year-on-year (YOY). Adjusted earnings increased 8.1%, to 67 cts/share, topping a 64 cts/share consensus estimate compiled by Thomson Reuters (New York). RPM International on Wednesday announced fiscal 2014 second-quarter earnings up 52.5% year-on-year (YOY), to $63.6 million, on sales up 5.3%, to $1.02 billion. Earnings rose 21.1% YOY on an adjusted basis, excluding the year-ago quarter’s write-down of an investment in India. Earnings totaled 48 cts/share, beating analysts’ consensus estimate of 45 cts/share, as reported by Thomson Reuters (New York). RPM’s fiscal 2014 second-quarter ended on 30 November 2013.

ExxonMobil on Wednesday opened its expanded Singapore chemical production facility. The company started producing ethylene at its new 1-million m.t./year cracker in Singapore in May 2013. The plant is part of a multibillion-dollar expansion that was completed in December 2012. The project includes two polyethylene plants, each with a capacity of 650,000 m.t./year; a 500,000-m.t./year polypropylene plant; a 300,000-m.t./year metallocene elastomers unit; a 125,000-m.t./year oxo alcohols unit; an 80,000-m.t./year para-xylene expansion; and 340,000 m.t./year of benzene.

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) says that, based on preliminary findings, three genetically modified seeds developed by Dow Chemical "do not pose a plant pest risk to agricultural crops or other plants in the United States," moving the potential blockbuster technology closer to approval. APHIS, which outlined the results in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) released today, says that the "preferred alternative" is for Dow's Enlist corn, Enlist soybean, and Enlist E3 soybean traits to be deregulated. The seeds are resistant to several herbicides, including 2,4-D. APHIS says EPA is conducting a concurrent review of the related herbicides.

Around the Web:

Private-sector employers added the most jobs in more than a year in December, with gains across a variety of business sizes and sectors, according to data released Wednesday, writes the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch. Private employers added 238,000 jobs last month, the most since November 2012, Automatic Data Processing Inc. reported. Trends also show improvement—private employers added an average of 224,000 jobs per month in the fourth quarter, slightly up from an average of 211,000 during the year-earlier period. Stock futures slipped despite the strong report.

A new study finds that US power plant emissions are down, according to Phys.org. Power plants that use natural gas and a new technology to squeeze more energy from the fuel release far less of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide than coal-fired power plants do, according to a new analysis accepted for publication on 8 January in Earth's Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. The so-called "combined cycle" natural gas power plants also release significantly less nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, which can worsen air quality. Emissions from the power sector are lower by 20, 30 even 40% for some gases since 1997, the study says.

Asian markets were set for a tense session Friday as reports on Chinese trade and US jobs have the power to cause convulsions by shifting the outlook for monetary policy in the world's two largest economies, Reuters reports. For Asia, the focus will be on Chinese trade numbers for a sense of how global demand is faring. Median forecasts are for exports to rise 4.9% in December, from a year ago, while imports are seen up 5.3%. In the US, Payrolls are forecast to have risen by a solid 196,000 in December, according to a Reuters survey of economists, just below November's count of 203,000. As ever for this volatile series estimates ranged widely from 120,000 to 235,000.

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