By Louise McHenry, UTI reporter
Ludwigshafen, Germany -- BASF's polyurethane sales grew by 7.6 percent in 2011, reaching Euro 5.852 billion ($7.849 billion), with an increase in sales in all regions and nearly all product lines, the company said in its annual report.
Demand from key customer sectors, such as automotive and industrial construction industries, grew sharply in the first half of the year. This was partially due to the "catch up effect" after the previous years of slowdown, Kurt Bock, BASF board chairman, said at a press conference at the BASF headquarters in Ludwigshafen, Germany, 24 Feb. Growth slowed from the middle of the year, BASF said, especially in the construction industry.
Despite lower volumes and prices for TDI (toluene diisocyanate) in 2011, Bock said the company remained confident about its planned 300 kilotonnes-per-annum TDI plant in Ludwigshafen. Bock noted that the plant was due to come on-stream at the end of 2014, by which stage the world will have changed.
"Our crystal ball shows that by 2015, the world will be a better place," Bock commented.
He also told delegates that polyurethane remained very important in Asia and that the decline "does not change the positive outlook" of the business. "We need to invest to generate future growth," leaving margins squeezed, the executive said, but BASF expects the investment to pay off in the medium- and long-term.
In 2012, BASF expects to continue expanding its network of systems houses. The company also said it anticipated an unchanged market environment in polyurethanes.
Overall, the company reported sales of Euro 73.5 billion, up 15 percent year-on-year. Earnings (EBIT) before special items were Euro 8.4 billion, up 4 percent. All regions contributed to this increase, BASF said. In the fourth quarter of 2011, sales were up by 10 percent to Euro 18.1 billion. Earnings before special items were Euro 15 billion, a decrease of 14 percent from the fourth quarter of 2020.
"We expect the global economy to pick up speed over the course of 2012 following a moderate start," Bock (pictured) said at the press conference. "Uncertainties due to the debt crises, in particular in Europe and the US, will dampen growth prospects." He added that the emerging markets will create positive growth for the company.