By Simon Robinson,
Ludwigshafen, Germany - Polyurethanes were one of the highpoints at BASF's annual results presentation with 8 percent sales growth 2012 compared with 2011.
Sales at €6.3billion ($8.2 billion) were driven by a 5 percent increase due to currencies; a 4 percent rise in prices, the edge was taken off with decline of 1 percent due to volume effects. The fourth quarter sales in polyurethanes were helped by competitor plant outages in the US and Asia. BASF notes in its annual report "Mostly because of higher margins for TDI (toluene diisocyanate) income from operations considerably exceeded the level of 2011."
Kurt Bock, chairman of the board of executive directors declined to comment on the profitability of either the polyol or isocyanate sectors within the polyurethanes business but conceded that supply and demand issues in the final quarter of 2012 had been important in increased profitability.
He is committed to polyurethanes, citing the 300 000 tonne/year increases in capacity underway at Ludwigshafen, due at the end of 2014. "You can talk about timing," he said, "but we feel that there is enough demand." Bock added that premarketing capacity from the plant was underway through the recently purchased Ciech business into Eastern Europe.
In 2012, BASF saw demand grow in the Automotive sector in the first half, but this fell in the second part of the year. Looking ahead BASF anticipates that its 2013 earnings will rise compared to 2012.