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Arch's urethanes sales rise-but performance products shows a loss

By Liz White, UT contributing editorNorwalk, Connecticut-Higher North American sales volumes due to stronger demand and improved pricing for glycol and specialty polyol products pushed Arch Chemicals Inc.’s performance urethanes sales up 19 percent in the third quarter. But the group’s total Performance Products division reported an operating loss of $3.1 million (Q3 2003, $1.7 million) on sales of $42.1 million (Q3 2003, $39.1 million).Operating results in performance products improved slightly, Arch said. Higher sales and lower selling and administration expenses were offset by higher raw material and energy costs-a repeated story in the urethanes sector. Arch also took a charge for a Brazilian import tax claim and Arch said its results included a provision for bad debt related to economic instability in Venezuela.In total, Arch’s sales lifted 24 percent to $316.7 million, with operating income of $14.3 million in 2004 compared to $7.5 million in 2003.”I am again encouraged by our improved year-over-year performance, which was principally driven by double-digit increases in sales and earnings in our personal care and industrial biocides businesses, as well as our wood protection operations,” said chairman, president and ceo Michael Campbell.The Arch chief referred to the effects of, “persistently high raw material costs,” on the group’s business.He also pointed out that the firm is selling the majority of its Microelectronic Materials operations to Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd for about $160 million. This sale supports Arch’s strategy of focusing on treatment products, Campbell commented.I can’t see any odd characters in it, although when I first tried to put it in this morning, a lot of odd characters appeared–the speech marks and hyphens and apostrophes were all peculiar.”

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