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Chemical industry weekly news roundup, 22 February
2:21 PM MST | February 22, 2013 | By LINDSAY FROST
This Week in CW:
Earnings season is slowing down, with only a few major companies still left to report. This week, in Europe and abroad, DSM reported a 75% fall in net profit, to €21 million year-on-year (YOY) on a minor increase in sales—up to €2.27 billion from €2.23 billion in the prior-year quarter. Tosoh reported results from its fiscal first 9 months, with sales down 9.6% to ¥474.4 billion, with the company saying it continued to face a harsh business environment and signs of a recession in the Japanese economy. In North America, fertilizer companies CF Industries and Agrium both reported earnings jumps thanks to increased sales volumes and an early fall planting season in the US. CF Industries’ had record ammonia shipments and its earnings jumped 7%, to $470.7 million YOY. Agrium’s net earnings increased 83%, to $354 million. Weak TiO2 sales hurt Rockwood’s earnings—declining 66% YOY, to $21.1 million.
On Wednesday, a federal jury ordered Dow Chemical to pay $400 million to the plaintiffs in a urethane chemicals price-fixing class-action lawsuit, with the damages possibly being tripled to $1.2 billion if the verdict is sustained under federal antitrust law.
Ineos announced it is restructuring its chlor-vinyls business to address overcapacity in chlorine, vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) due to the economic downturn in Europe continuing to impact demand along the chain. The restructuring includes focusing the company’s UK PVC production at one plant and refiguring its 300,000-m.t./year VCM plant at Runcorn to produce ethylene dichloride (EDC).
Around the Web:
A recent study by the USDA says that the number of farms in the US, the world’s biggest agriculture exporter, fell 0.5% in 2012—the lowest since 2006, according to an article in Bloomberg. The farm operations number dropped, as well as the amount of land in use for cultivation or livestock production. Net farm income totaled $112.8 billion.
An article in the Diplomat says that trade talks in President Obama’s State of the Union address could be the end of the “Asian Century,” partially due to the likelihood of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations with the EU being completed ahead of rival free trade agreements (FTAs) in Asia. An FTA between the US and EU would present a big rival to Asia, accounting for more than 40% of global GDP and about 50% of inward and outward foreign direct investment stock.
A Reuters blog by Chrystia Freeland discusses “how to make capitalism work” for the middle class with an interview with David Autor, an economics professor at MIT citing that the driving forces of changes in the middle class are technology-related and trade.