Ludwigshafen, Germany -- BASF SE's polyurethanes division reported sales Euro 4123 million, Euro 1017 million less than in 2008 (volumes -6%, prices -16%) in its polyurethanes division. But BASF said that, compared to the weak fourth quarter of 2008, its Q4 polyurethane sales rose by 6.6 percent to Euro 1133 million.
For the company's planned MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate plant in Chonqing, in the west of China, BASF chairman Dr Juergen Hambrecht said intense preparation has been going on and he is "confident very soon of more news," on this project.
In its annual results statement BASF said "We posted a decline in sales in all regions and product lines in 2009 due to lower volumes and prices. Our basic products MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate), TDI (toluene diisocyanate) and polyols were more strongly affected by this development than the elastomers and the systems businesses."
The group noted low demand in automotive and construction globally compared with 2008, "particularly in Europe and North America," saying only in furniture and household goods were volumes almost at the 2008 level.
But BASF noted that, partly from positive development in China, demand for polyurethanes in Asia matched that of 2008.
The PU business managed to push through successive price increases towards the end of the year, and offset higher raw material and energy prices. But BASF said, "Our margins -- in particular for MDI and TDI -- were significantly lower than in 2008 as a result of a sharp fall in prices at the beginning of the year."
BASF said its operating Income declined compared with 2008 "due to lower sales volumes and margins."
BASF group as a whole had sales in 2009 of Euro 50 700 million, a 19-percent drop compared with 2008, while earnings (EBIT) before special items declined 29 percent to Euro 4900 compared with 2009.
Fourth quarter sales were up 2.0 percent and EBIT before special items was up 19 percent, compared with figures from Q3 of 2009. Compared with Q4 of 2008, however, sales dropped 8 percent and EBIT before special items rose 181 percent.
The group said it expects slow and uneven recovery globally this year, but also aims for a significant rise in earnings.