BASF had a solid start to 2012. Sales were higher than in the very good first quarter of the previous year and rose six percent to €20.6 billion. Income from operations (EBIT) before special items decreased as expected and, at €2.5 billion (down seven percent), was slightly below the same quarter of the previous year. “Increased raw material costs could not be fully passed on in all business areas, which put pressure on our margins. Our Oil & Gas and Agricultural Solutions segments increased their earnings significantly,” said Dr. Kurt Bock, chairman of the board of executive directors of BASF, at the annual shareholders’ meeting in the Congress Center Rosengarten in Mannheim. After a weak fourth quarter in 2011, BASF’s business recovered in the first quarter of 2012. However, higher raw material costs could only be partly passed on. The company expects global economic growth to continue over the course of 2012. Uncertainty on the financial markets dampens growth prospects. Positive stimulus for the chemical industry will mainly come from the emerging markets. Sales increased in the Chemicals segment, mainly due to positive currency effects and sales to Styrolution Group companies. Sales in the Performance Products segment were at the level of the very good previous first quarter. Demand was slightly lower. Sales in the Functional Solutions segment increased slightly as a result of higher demand from the automotive and construction industries.