BASF Reports Profitable Growth in 2014
At the Annual Press Conference in Ludwigshafen, Germany, BASF SE reported increased earnings in the 4th quarter and full year 2014. At EUR 74.3 billion, sales in 2014 matched the level of the previous year (2013: EUR 74.0 billion). Sales volumes increased in all segments in 2014. Overall volumes grew by 4%. Prices decreased by 3%, largely due to significant decreases in oil and gas prices. Negative currency effects dampened sales in almost all divisions.
“We achieved our goal for 2014: We increased earnings – despite the disappointing economic development in Europe. We grew profitably. We further strengthened our chemicals business and in turn improved our margins. We have our costs firmly under control. This is an outstanding achievement of the entire BASF team,” said Dr. Kurt Bock, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE.
EBIT before special items grew by EUR 280 million to EUR 7.4 billion in 2014. This was primarily the result of a larger contribution from the chemicals business – comprising the Chemicals, Performance Products and Functional Materials & Solutions segments. EBIT was up EUR 466 million from the previous year’s level and reached EUR 7.6 billion. Net income amounted to EUR 5.2 billion, exceeding the previous year’s level of EUR 4.8 billion.
Outlook for 2015
“The outlook for the 2015 business year is subject to significant uncertainty. Oil and raw material prices are volatile, as are currencies; the emerging markets are growing more slowly; and the global economy is being dampened by geopolitical conflict. For 2015, we nevertheless anticipate somewhat stronger growth in the global economy, industrial production and the chemical industry than in 2014,” said Bock. One reason for this is the lower oil price. For 2015, the company assumes the following economic conditions (previous year figures in parentheses):
- Global economic growth: +2.8% (+2.5%)
- Growth in global chemical production (excluding pharmaceuticals): +4.2% (+4.0%)
- An average euro/dollar exchange rate of USD 1.20 per euro (USD 1.33 per euro)
- An average oil price (Brent) of USD 60 to USD 70 per barrel (USD 99 per barrel)
EBIT before special items in 2015 will likely match the previous year’s level. The company expects considerably larger contributions from Performance Products, Functional Materials & Solutions and Agricultural Solutions. EBIT before special items in the Chemicals segment is likely to decline slightly because of expenses for starting up several plants. The earnings contribution of the Oil & Gas segment is expected to decrease considerably due to the lower price of oil.
“Through the largest investment program in decades, we are laying the foundation for future growth. We have strengthened our Production Verbund over the past years. We are investing in emerging markets. We are investing to take advantage of shale gas in the United States, and we are investing in the competitiveness of our European sites. A whole range of new plants will start up operations in 2015 – plants that will keep producing for the next 10, 20 or 30 years,” said Bock. As examples he named plants for polyurethane basic chemicals in Ludwigshafen (TDI) and in Chongqing, China (MDI) as well as a production complex for acrylic acid and superabsorbent polymers in Camaçari, Brazil. Following the conclusion of major projects, the company will invest substantially less in 2015. In the Oil & Gas segment, investment levels will be lower than in the year before. BASF plans total capital expenditures of EUR 4.0 billion, compared with EUR 5.1 billion in 2014.
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