Chemical industry weekly news roundup, 7 February
12:27 PM MST | February 7, 2014 | By LINDSAY FROST
This Week in CW:
Earnings continued to be reported this week by several companies internationally. Dow Corning reported net income of $110 million for its fiscal fourth quarter, compared with a loss of $101 million in the year-ago quarter, as customers purchased high volumes of polysilicon to meet contractual obligations. Kemira (Helsinki) reported a fourth-quarter net loss of €48.7 million ($66.06 million) compared with a net loss of €40.4 million in the year-earlier period. Revenues were down 2% to €545.2 million, due to unfavorable currency exchange rates. Mitsui Chemicals reports a net loss of ¥18.5 billion ($182 million) for the company's fiscal first nine months ended 31 December 2013, compared with a net loss of ¥9.7 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal year. FMC reported fourth-quarter earnings down 73.5% year-on-year (YOY), to $27.1 million, or 20 cts/share, on sales up 24%, to $1.1 billion. Earnings were hit by $114.3 million in charges related to the sale of the company’s Peroxygens business, FMC says. AkzoNobel’s fourth-quarter net income reached €51 million ($68.97 million) compared with a €27 million loss in the year-earlier period.
W. R. Grace emerged from bankruptcy protection late Monday, ending nearly 13 years of operation under Chapter 11 protection to address asbestos-related claims. The company’s joint plan of reorganization, which became effective 3 February, establishes two independent trusts to compensate asbestos claimants. The trusts will be funded with more than $4 billion from a variety of sources, including cash; warrants to purchase Grace common stock; deferred payment obligations; insurance proceeds; and payments from former affiliates, such as Sealed Air. The company also this week swung to a profit in the fourth quarter as stronger sales of construction products helped offset weak catalyst results. The company reported net income of $29.7 million for its fiscal quarter ended 31 December, compared with a net loss of $184.3 million in the year-ago quarter.
Entegris (Billerica, MA), a provider of products for purifying, protecting, and transporting materials used in semiconductor manufacturing, announced a definitive merger agreement with ATMI (Danbury, CT), a provider of semiconductor materials for the microelectronics and life sciences industries. Under the agreement, Entegris will acquire ATMI for $1.15 billion. The transaction is expected to close in second-quarter 2014.
Around the Web:
AP reports that a surprisingly weak jobs report for a second straight month has renewed concern that the U.S. economy might be slowing after a strong finish last year. Employers added 113,000 jobs in January, far fewer than the average monthly gain of 194,000 last year. Job gains have averaged just 154,000 the past three months, down from 201,000 in the preceding three. The sluggish job growth could undermine hopes that economic growth will accelerate this year. But economists also say they expect hiring to return to healthier levels in coming months. They note that solid job gains in January in areas like manufacturing and construction point to underlying strength.
According to the Illinois News Bureau from the University of Illinois, researchers have developed new dynamic materials to create removable paint and self-healing plastics in the household. The materials are catalyst-free, low-temperature and can be healed multiple times. The study uses softer elastic materials made of polyuria. After the polymer is cut or torn, the researchers press the two pieces back together and let the sample sit for about a day to heal. The polymer bonds back together on the molecular level nearly as strongly as before it was cut. In fact, tests found that some healed samples, stretched to their limits, tore in a new place rather than the healed spot, evidence that the samples had healed completely.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, sandwich-maker Subway restaurants announced this week it will no longer use azodiacarbonamide in its bread. The chemical, also used in plastics and rubber, is allowed for restricted use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to strengthen the dough and increase the shelf life of bread. Azodicarbonamide—banned from use in food in Europe and Australia—is used in in Subway’s 9-grain wheat bread, Italian bread, and sourdough bread in the US. In its industrial form for use in plastic and rubber, azodicarbonamide is associated with asthma and other allergic reactions, Businessweek says.