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BASF flat, but optimistic

By David Reed, UT EditorLudwigshafen, Germany-BASF Group has reported 2003 sales up 3.6 percent on 2002 at €33 400 million ($40 755 million), despite a $2300-million hit on currency fluctuations. Total income, at €5110 million, was flat, but the firm expects moderate growth in 2004, despite the strong Euro.However, sales in the firm’s performance products unit, which includes its polyurethane activities, fell 4.75 percent in 2003, to €7633 million, while income from these activities was down 20 percent, at €907 million, in terms of EBITDA (Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation), or 13 percent in EBIT (Earnings before special items).BASF’s plastics business sales rose 3.6 percent to reach €8787 million, and overall group sales in the fourth quarter were “substantially better than expected,” a BASF press announcement said, adding that moderate growth was in sight for 2004.”Throughout the world, the economy seems to have bottomed out. Upward movement is increasing; the growth markets in Asia and the United States are fueling the global recovery process,” according to Jürgen Hambrecht, chairman of the board of executive directors of BASF AG, speaking at the company’s annual press conference in Ludwigshafen on March 17, 2004.The company’s forecast for 2004 assumes:• An improved investment climate and a gradually improving consumer climate;• Average oil price of $28/barrel; and• A US dollar that continues to be volatile and weak.The main impetus will come from Asia and to some extent from the United States, the company said, adding that, in general, only moderate growth is expected.”

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