BASF’s business developed positively in the second quarter of 2014. At €18.5 billion, sales rose by 1% compared with the same period of the previous year. “This was largely the result of higher sales volumes in our chemicals business, which comprises the Chemicals, Performance Products and Functional Materials & Solutions segments, as well as in the Oil & Gas segment,” said Dr. Kurt Bock, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE at the Half-Year Telephone Conference. Sales prices decreased slightly. On balance, portfolio measures increased sales by 1%. Continuing negative currency effects (minus 4%) and a considerable decline in sales in Other dampened sales growth for the BASF Group.
At around €2.1 billion, income from operations (EBIT) before special items surpassed the level of the second quarter of 2013 by €221 million. Earnings increased considerably in the chemicals business and the Oil & Gas segment. Earnings declined considerably, however, in the Agricultural Solutions segment and in Other. “The devaluation of almost all major currencies against the euro negatively impacted earnings by roughly €200 million compared to the previous second quarter,” explained Bock.
EBIT increased by €246 million to €2.0 billion compared with the previous second quarter. Net income rose by €142 million to €1.3 billion. Earnings per share were €1.41 in the second quarter of 2014 compared with €1.26 in the same period of the previous year. Adjusted for special items and amortization of intangible assets, earnings per share rose to €1.54 (second quarter of 2013: €1.40).
Further implementation of the “We create chemistry” strategy
“In the past months, we continued to implement our ‘We create chemistry’ strategy. We invested in attractive business areas and were successful in the market with our innovations. In addition, we optimized businesses and increased our efficiency,” said Bock. Just a few days ago, BASF inaugurated a new production plant for mobile emissions catalysts in Sroda Slaska near Wroclaw, Poland. The company is also increasing investments in plastics and plastic precursors business in Asia. The restructuring of the Performance Products segment is on track. Through the restructuring measures in this segment, more than 2,000 positions will be reduced by the end of 2017. BASF expects an annual earnings improvement of about €500 million from 2017 onward. One-time costs are €250 to 300 million.
Outlook for full year 2014
For 2014, BASF now expects weaker growth in the global economy than was foreseen six months ago. The weakness of relevant major currencies is an additional burden. The company has thus reduced some of its expectations for the global economy in 2014 (previous forecast in parentheses):
Growth of gross domestic product: 2.5% (2.8%)
Growth in industrial production: 3.7%
Growth in chemical production: 4.4%
An average euro/dollar exchange rate of $1.35 per euro
($1.30 per euro)
An average oil price for the year of $110 per barrel
Bock: “The slight upturn in growth expected for the global economy and key customer industries in 2014 has a positive effect on our business. We thus stand by our outlook for 2014 despite even more unfavorable currency developments and increased political risks. We aim to increase our sales volumes excluding the effects of acquisitions and divestitures.” Nonetheless, sales are likely to decrease slightly compared with 2013, due to the divestiture of the gas trading and storage business, as well as to continuing negative currency effects. BASF expects a slight rise in EBIT before special items, especially as a result of considerably higher contributions from the Performance Products and Functional Materials & Solutions segments. EBIT is likely to increase considerably. Special income from the planned divestiture of the gas trading and storage business as well as from the divestiture of BASF’s share in the Styrolution joint venture will make a significant contribution here.
BASF now expects the closing of the asset swap with Gazprom, agreed upon in December 2013, in autumn 2014 – still with retroactive financial effect from April 1, 2013. The transaction includes the divestiture of the gas trading and storage business. “The complex legal unbundling process involving the establishment of new companies in Russia, the Netherlands and Germany is taking longer than initially anticipated,” explained Dr. Hans-Ulrich Engel, Chief Financial Officer of BASF.
Business development in the segments in the second quarter
In the Chemicals segment, sales were up 3% compared with the second quarter of 2013. Sales volumes rose in all divisions, posting especially strong volumes growth in the Petrochemicals division in North America. Lower sales prices and negative currency effects reduced the sales increase. EBIT before special items surpassed the level of the previous second quarter by €75 million and increased to €570 million, mainly as a result of higher margins in the Petrochemicals division.
Sales in the Performance Products segment declined by 3% due to negative currency effects. With prices stable, volumes slightly increased; sales volumes grew especially in the Asia Pacific region. EBIT before special items grew by €41 million to €435 million. This was mainly the result of lower fixed costs, partly owing to restructuring measures.
Sales matched the previous second-quarter level in the Functional Materials & Solutions segment. Sales volumes increased considerably, primarily in the Catalysts division. Negative currency effects put a strain on sales development. In the Construction Chemicals division, sales declined considerably as a result of portfolio effects, as well. EBIT before special items increased by €63 million to €356 million. This was largely owing to higher volumes and reduced fixed costs.
In the Agricultural Solutions segment, sales declined by 4% compared with the second quarter of 2013. This was due to negative currency effects. Sales prices could be raised in all regions. Volumes remained stable. At €433 million, EBIT before special items was €52 million below the previous second-quarter level, on account of negative currency effects and higher research expenses.
Sales in the Oil & Gas segment exceeded the level of the previous second quarter by 13%. Sales volumes increased sharply, especially in the Exploration & Production business sector. The activities in Norway acquired from Statoil also contributed to sales growth. In the Natural Gas Trading business sector, significantly lower gas prices dampened sales development. EBIT before special items rose by €205 million to €587 million as a result of the higher volumes
Compared with the second quarter of 2013, sales in Other fell by 20%. This was primarily due to reduced raw material sales and lower plant availability. EBIT before special items declined by €111 million to minus €328 million. Currency losses contributed significantly to this development.
Business development in the regions in the second quarter
Sales at companies located in Europe rose by 1% in the second quarter compared with the same quarter of the previous year. Higher volumes in the segments Chemicals, Functional Materials & Solutions and especially Oil & Gas could more than compensate for lower prices and negative currency effects. Sales declined considerably in Other. EBIT before special items grew by €273 million to €1.3 billion mainly due to higher contributions from the chemicals business and from the Oil & Gas segment.
In North America sales grew by 10% in U.S. dollars and by 4% in euro terms. This was largely attributable to significantly higher sales volumes, especially in the Chemicals and Functional Materials & Solutions segments. At €466 million, EBIT before special items was €19 million below the level of the same quarter of 2013. While earnings in the Chemicals and Functional Materials & Solutions segments increased considerably, earnings declined in the Performance Products and Agricultural Solutions segments as well as in Other.
In Asia Pacific sales rose by 1% in local-currency terms, but were down 5% in euro terms owing to negative currency effects and slightly declining sales prices. Sales decreased considerably in the Chemicals segment. EBIT before special items fell by €24 million to €172 million. Considerably lower earnings in the Chemicals and Agricultural Solutions segments contributed to this.
Sales in South America, Africa, Middle East grew by 6% in local-currency terms, but fell by 7% in euro terms. Sales volumes declined slightly. Highly negative currency effects could only be partially offset by increased prices. EBIT before special items decreased by €9 million to €68 million, mainly due to the Oil & Gas segment.