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October 2009
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Things looking up for chemical companies
With both Sabic and BASF reporting better profits and Bayer MaterialScience (BMS) restoring a full working week at its German site, does this mean that things are looking up in the industry?

Though Sabic reported a 50% decline in its third quarter profit, the company posted a higher net income of US$960 million, compared with the same period last year. Said CEO Mohamed Al-Mady, “In spite of repercussions arising from the global economic crisis, Sabic has maintained the same operational levels. Sabic’s total production during the first nine months of 2009 reached 44 million tonnes, an increase of 4%, while quantities sold were 34.5 million tonnes, an increase of 3% over the same period last year.”

BASF, meanwhile, says its sales in the third quarter were up 2.4% compared with the second quarter, pinning it on its operational strength. “We are seeing the effects of the extensive measures we implemented in good time to adjust capacity utilisation rates and to reduce costs,” said Chairman Jürgen Hambrecht. The company also said that overall, markets had stabilised and it expects strong growth opportunities in Asia, especially in China, and in South America. Though BASF’s profits are not back yet to the 2008 level, with sales are down 19% compared to the third quarter last year, the company said it had done better than analysts’ estimates. Furthermore, the integration of the former Ciba activities is proceeding faster than expected and higher special charges will therefore be included in the third quarter.

Come November, BMS is restoring the 37.5 hour working week at its German sites. Early this year, due to the slow down, the company reduced the working hours and salaries (by 6.7%) of its 4,100 employees. "The reason for lifting this special arrangement is the improvement in orders. Nevertheless the future business development of our customer industries still remains uncertain," said Dr Tony Van Osselaer, Labour Director at BMS.

 
 
 
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