By David Reed, UT EditorSalt Lake City, Utah-Polyurethanes played a major role in boosting the sales and profits of Huntsman Corp. in the first three months of this year to 31 March, a 3 May statement from the firm indicates. Total revenues for the diversified chemicals and plastics manufacturer rose 27 percent on the same period of the prior year, reaching $3363 million, while adjusted income (EBITDA) more than doubled, to $488 million as against $224 million in the first quarter of 2004. This was also a healthy 21-percent up on the fourth quarter of last year, the Huntsman statement added, showing the continued impact of rising prices for its products.Revenues from the firm’s polyurethanes business in the first quarter rose to $907 million, up from $640 million in 2004’s first quarter, while EBITDA for the business was $186 million, versus $73 million for the same period last year, the statement showed.The increase in revenues was primarily due to higher average selling prices for MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate), the report commented. MDI sales volumes were higher by just 1 percent, the firm admitted. Also, Huntsman said, its propylene oxide (PO) and co-product MTBE (methyl tert.-butyl ether) materials achieved higher average selling prices and volumes.Average selling prices of MDI rose 45 percent as a result of the combination of strong growth in higher-value applications, continued strong supply/demand fundamentals, and the strength of major European currencies versus the US dollar, the Huntsman statement explained. The increase in EBITDA in the polyurethanes segment was the result of higher margins as average selling prices more than offset the increase of raw materials and energy costs. EBITDA also increased as a result of decreased administrative costs, even though it was cut by $1.9 million of restructuring charges recorded in the first quarter of 2005 as against $4.8 million for the same period in 2004.One other key factor in the improved results for Huntsman Corp was the use of monies raised from its IPO to pay down some of its debt, the statement pointed out.”
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