By David Reed, UT EditorLudwigshafen, Germany–BASF AG reported “excellent interim results,” following a good recovery in sales and earnings, led by strong growth in its plastics and chemicals businesses.BASF’s total third-quarter sales increased to €9300 million, up 20 percent on the same quarter of the previous year, while EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) rose a massive 160 percent, to €1054 million.The firm’s polyurethanes business was part of this strong growth picture, with sales up 23 percent to €907 million, mainly due to increasing volumes, BASF emphasised. “Significantly higher raw material costs … could only be partially offset,” the firm added. “Nevertheless, earnings improved due to volume growth and cost-reduction measures,” the company continued.BASF’s MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) plant expansion in Yeosu, Korea, came on stream earlier this year, reaching 160 kilotonnes per year, up 60 ktpa on its present capacity, helping the firm meet rising demand from customers in Asia.BASF’s PU sales over the first three quarters of the year reached €2537 million, up 16 percent on the same period of 2003, with EBIT for the whole plastics segment up 91 percent for the period, at €459 million, the company indicated. The firm does not release an EBIT figure for the polyurethanes business alone, and the plastics figure includes its styrenics and performance polymers activities.BASF expects the rest of the year to show similar strong recovery, but cautioned that forecasts of slackening general economic growth in 2005 could impact next year’s situation.”
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