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North American firms report strong fourth quarter results

1:18 PM MST | February 10, 2014 | CW Staff

(Correction: The earnings table included with this story misreported Dow's 4Q12 earnings at $959 million. The correct figure is -$716 million.)

North American basic and diversified chemical companies have posted year-on-year (YOY) fourth-quarter gains, led mainly by growth in the domestic market but also by growth in emerging markets. The outlook is positive, if uncertain.

“While we are seeing positive trends in major economies as we enter 2014, global growth remains tentative, continuing to drive business uncertainty,” says Dow Chemical chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris.

Dow turned in a particularly striking performance, swinging from a year-ago loss to net income of $963 million. Earnings were up in all segments, particularly performance plastics. Sales increased 3%, supported by gains in all segments excluding feedstocks and energy. Volume rose 3%, led by emerging geographies, which increased 7%.

Dow’s performance plastics turned in an adjusted Ebitda of $1.2 billion, up 40% YOY on broad gains, while sales climbed 5%. Performance materials increased adjusted Ebitda 58%, to $421 million, and sales by 1%.

DuPont doubled fourth-quarter net income YOY, to $185 million. The agricultural segment swung from a $77-million loss in the year-ago quarter to operating earnings of $88 million, led by strong insecticide sales in Latin America and earlier seed shipments. Sales increased 6%.

“For the year, we delivered double-digit operating earnings growth and higher margins aside from the substantial decline in performance chemicals,” says DuPont chair and CEO Ellen Kullman. “The improvement was driven by higher volumes, new innovative products, and productivity gains.”

Strong sales of Tritan copolyester and fibers helped Eastman Chemical offset weak adhesives results and higher propane costs and swing to profit of $346 million. Sales increased 4% YOY primarily because of the higher sales volumes in additives and functional products, advanced materials, and fibers segments.

A strong performance in the Americas and a tax benefit lifted LyondellBasell Industries’ fourth-quarter net income to $1.18 billion, up 89% year-on-year (YOY) from $623 million, the company says, and 38% from the third quarter’s $851 million. Sales for the quarter totaled $11.1 billion, essentially unchanged both YOY and quarter-to-quarter.

Celanese swung to fourth-quarter net earnings of $654 million. Net sales increased 8%. Operating Ebitda for acetyl intermediates increased 31% YOY, to $105 million, despite surging raw material methanol costs. Acetyl intermediates’ sales increased 7%. Advanced engineered materials reports operating Ebitda of $83 million, down 6%, although sales increased 9%.

Praxair reports fourth-quarter earnings of $474 million, up up 14% YOY on strength in North American markets and the energy industry. Global growth in the energy, metals, chemicals, and manufacturing markets drove sales to $3 billion.

“In southern Europe, volumes are stabilizing, and, with our industry-leading position in North America, we remain well positioned to continue to take advantage of the attractive fundamentals for the energy, manufacturing, and materials industries,” says Steve Angel, chairman, president, and CEO of Praxair. “In Brazil, growth should be positive, although uneven, given ongoing macroeconomic challenges.”

Slightly lower volumes reduced Air Products’ sales for the quarter 1% YOY, to $2.5 billion, but gains in the electronics and performance materials segment and the equipment and energy segment increased net income 4%, to $287 million, the company says.

Basics and diversified earnings mainly up
Company 4Q 2013 Sales* Change YOY 4Q 2013 Earnings* 4Q 2012 Earnings* Change YOY
Dow $14,400 3% $963 -$716 234%
LyondellBasell 11,140 0 1,175 623 89
DuPont 7,700 6 185 92 101
Praxair 3,000 8 474 414 14
Air Products 2,500 -1 287 277 4
Eastman 2,300 4 346 -54 741
Celanese 1,620 8 654 -169 487
Methanex 881 32 128 -140 191
Olin 562 -4 24.7 34.6 -29
OxyChem NA NA 128 180 -29
*Sales and earnings are in millions. Source: Company reports.

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