Ludwigshafen, Germany - BASF grew sales by 4.8% and earnings (EBIT) before special items by 10.1% in the first quarter of 2013 versus the previous year period, totalling €19.7 billion and €2.2 billion respectively. However, net income was down 15.1% at €1.4 billion.
In the chemicals division, which includes isocyanates in its monomers segment, sales were down 3% year-on-year at €4.4 billion. However, BASF said in its 26 April report that it was able to increase sales volumes in the monomers and intermediates divisions, partially due to higher demand for MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) and TDI (toluene diisocyanate). First quarter monomers sales grew by 4% totalling €1.7 billion, while sales of intermediates intermediates - which includes butanediol and derivatives - reached €700 million, a 4% increase year-on-year.
In the functional materials & solutions division, which includes performance materials and coatings, sales were unchanged at €4.2 billion. In the performance materials segment, which includes polyurethane and systems, sales rose 6% versus Q1 2012 totalling €1.6 billion. This was primarily driven by volumes and higher prices, BASF said, with sales volumes for polyurethane systems developing especially well.
Regionally in terms of customer location, sales grew in Europe (8%) and Asia-Pacific (4%) , but fell in both North America (-2%) and South America, Africa and the Middle East (-6%).
Kurt Bock, BASF's chairman of the Board of Directors, said that the company expects global economic growth to pick up only slightly in 2013.
"The chemical industry will increase production again compared to 2012 because the emerging markets are growing," he said. "However, we do not expect a straight-line trend. The market environment remains volatile."
Economic growth would be impaired by an intensification of the debt crises in the eurozone and the US as well as by lower demand in Asia, Bock added.