Ludwigshafen, Germany - BASF SE said its business developed well in the first quarter of 2010. Economic recovery and "some restocking of inventories by customers," mean demand has" risen strongly in almost all divisions," the German chemicals giant said in a 29 April statement. At the same time, some chemical products were in short supply, BASF noted.
In its plastics division, which consists of the group's performance polymers and polyurethane operations, sales for the quarter were Euro 2187 million (Euro 1463 million Q1 2009), with polyurethanes forming Euro 1220 million (Euro 877 million Q1 2009).
The plastics business has been recovering steadily, BASF said, "after the extremely weak first quarter of 2009."
Sales prices in the PU division were almost at the level of Q1 2009, with sales volumes which "increased considerably in all business areas." BASF said that only in construction did demand remain weak -- as a result of normal seasonal demand.
Sales volumes were nevertheless higher than in Q4 2009, and speciality business sales rose -- particularly benefitting from increased automotive demand, the group said.
For BASF overall, the market changes resulted in sales rising by 26 percent to Euro 15 500 million ($20 530 million), while operating income (before special items) rose by 98 percent to Euro 1950 million, primarily as a result of higher capacity utilisation, BASF said.
Earnings improved significantly in almost all divisions.
"We have thus almost achieved the level of the very good quarters before the crisis," said chairman Juergen Hambrecht, noting that, especially in Chemicals, Plastics, Performance Products and Functional Solutions, business "grew substantially thanks to renewed demand from almost all customer industries, particularly from the automotive, electric and electronic industries."
Regionally, BASF saw high demand in Asia and South America, with North America also slowly recovering, while Europe is "bringing up the rear," he continued.
Sales in Asia Pacific rose by 77 percent in local currency terms, and by 73 percent in Euros, while at Euro 310 million, earnings grew by Euro 258 million. In the polyurethanes division in Asia Pacific, rising volumes was one reason for a strong increase in earnings, Hambrecht noted.