IHS Chemical Week


Chemical Finance Digest, Jan. 2-6

2:42 PM MST | January 9, 2012 | By VINCENT VALK

Topping the headlines
last week, early earnings mostly looked good. Monsanto’s net income rose 140% on growth in seed sales in Latin America. A. Schulman’s net income was up 48% on higher selling prices, while RPM’s rose 2.3% due to higher volumes. Mosaic’s net income fell, though the company beat Wall Street’s expectations.

In M&A news, some mid-range private equity deals were completed last week. HIG Capital sold Vantage Specialty Chemicals, the former oleochemicals business of Croda, to The Jordan Company. HIG acquired the business that became Vantage in 2008 for $91.5 million. Meanwhile, Sterling Group has acquired Liqui-Box, a large part of DuPont’s packaging business, and Indorama Ventures has acquired FiberVisions, a U.S.-based fibers maker with a global capacity of 221,000 m.t./year. And Bloomberg is reporting that JPMorgan has overtaken Morgan Stanley as the top chemicals M&A advisory firm by deal value, with $22.7 billion in transactions last year.

Also in Bloomberg, Europe’s financial woes are likely to be felt in upcoming earnings reports – paralleling my story in this week’s print issue of CW, as the earnings outlook for chemical firms calls for solid, but slowing, growth, depending in part on exposure to weakness in Europe.

In macroeconomic news, the U.S. employment report for December contained mostly good news, with 200,000 jobs added. The unemployment rate fell to 8.5% - the lowest in nearly three years – from 8.7%, though that was, as usual, partly due to a shrinking labor force. Still, there’s a growing feeling that the U.S. economy has turned a corner, and can maintain growth on its own, albeit at a modest pace. “The primary threat to continuing expansion remains external, but if the Eurozone financial crisis can be contained, there's enough momentum on the domestic side to keep the US economy moving forward, at a pace that would generate around 150,000 jobs per month over the course of 2012,” says IHS Global Insight chief economist Nigel Gault.

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