IHS Chemical Week
VIEWPOINT

Staying special

7:32 AM MDT | May 22, 2015

Our cover story this week focuses on specialty chemicals and the ongoing effort to fight off commoditization (p. 21). With the age of new molecules largely passed, producers have turned attention to more closely aligning with customers to find the solutions and formulations that preserve value and enhance margin....


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DuPont, Trian showdown

Trian’s bid to gain representation on DuPont’s board heads to a conclusion at the company’s annual meeting in Wilmington, DE, on 13 May (p. 7). DuPont seems to have lost some momentum in recent weeks as three proxy advisory firms, which guide decisions by pension funds and some other institutional investors, have endorsed Trian founder and CEO Nelson Peltz’s bid for a seat at DuPont....

Material gains

First-quarter performance for US chemical makers has been okay so far despite nasty currency impacts (pp. 7, 9). A strong dollar weighed down revenues, but most segments, with agriculture as a notable exception, posted solid results....

Asia olefins revamp

Japan’s chemical industry had a solid 2014 despite the anemic conditions in the broader Japanese economy. A weaker yen and cheaper crude, which has improved the relative competitiveness of Japan’s high-cost naphtha-based production, are the reasons for the improved performance (p. 21)....

Change endures

Former LyondellBasell CEO James Gallogly told attendees at AFPM’s International Petrochemical Conference that he maintains a print of Texas artist G. Harvey’s “When Cowboys Don’t Change” as a reminder of how quickly circumstances and fortunes can reverse. The painting shows a group of cowboys riding alongside oil derricks and early automobiles at the dawn of the dawn of the car—and oil—ages....

Petrochemical outlook

Global petrochemical makers are still sorting through a correction in energy markets. As CW’s cover story shows, North America’s natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs) remain strongly advantaged, but with oil prices at half their previous level, the returns expected for some projects may not be as compelling or reliable as they once were (p. 19)....

Energy-chemical intersect

Former ExxonMobil Chemical president Stephen Pryor noted that chemicals and energy continue to converge, with chemicals set to play an ever larger role, as he accepted the Chemical Industry Medal of the Society of Chemical Industry’s American section last week in New York....

Paints brighten

Producers are positive about the outlook for the global paints and coatings market, as our cover story this week shows (p. 21)....

Activists advance

For better or worse, activists are likely to be a recurring theme in industry. Even with recent high-profile spats involving blue chips names, such as Air Products, Dow Chemical, and DuPont, activist activity is likely to expand to more companies. Activists are raising funds at an aggressive pace, and high-profile campaigns against chemical makers may draw others to the sector....

Shake it off

US chemical makers continue to report positive results for the fourth quarter with solid US demand and advantaged feedstocks offsetting muted volume growth and weaker pricing (p. 7)....

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