By David Reed, UT EditorNorthfield, Illinois-Stepan Co., supplier of various chemicals and surfactants, including aromatic polyester polyols for the polyurethanes industry, has reported an 18-percent rise in sales, to $278.3 million for the second quarter of this year as against the same period last year.And net income soared 62 percent, to $6.2 million, Stepan's 20 July statement indicated. Polyurethane systems earnings rose significantly on higher volume that included a large order shipped during the second quarter," the firm said, adding that polyurethane polyol sales volume declined on weaker demand."Stepan's polymer unit-the term it uses to cover its polyurethane polyol, phthalic anhydride and polyurethane systems units-saw sales rise 33 percent in the quarter, to £64.2 million, due to higher selling prices," the statement added. This suggests a slow-down in the second quarter, since there has been a 41-percent rise in sales for the first half year, to $121.5 million, the Stepan results statement showed. The improvement in polymer earnings is expected to continue for the balance of the year on higher volume," said F. Quinn Stepan, the firm's chairman and chief executive officer. Start up of the new polyol plant by our joint venture in Nanjing, China, was also completed during the quarter," he added.The firm's other businesses, including surfactants and speciality products, also saw net sales rise, but by much smaller margins: Surfactant sales in the second quarter were up 14 percent, at $207 million, while sales of Speciality products rose just 88 percent to $7.1 million, taking total company sales for the quarter to $278.4 million."