“Our long-term strategy is paying off,” says BASF’s chairman, Dr. Jürgen Hambrecht. “That’s most apparent in turbulent times like the ones we’re currently seeing in the financial markets. BASF’s strategy is not to try to achieve improvements over just a few quarters. Instead, we strive constantly to keep ahead of the global competition over the long term.”
The company confirmed a confident outlook for the rest of 2008 thanks to its record first quarter. More specifically, the strongest sales growth was again posted in the oil and gas segment. This was due to higher crude oil prices and increased natural gas production in the exploration and production business sector, as well as sales volume increases in the natural gas trading business sector. The oil and gas segment also posted the highest increase in income from operations.
First-quarter sales rose in the double-digits in the chemicals segment due to higher volumes and prices. However, the earnings level achieved in the same quarter of the previous year was not reached. This was due to a decline in margins for cracker products and decreased plant availability in the petrochemicals division.
The plastics segment increased in sales slightly. The rise in sales in the polyurethanes division as a result of continued high demand worldwide more than offset the slight currency-related decrease in the performance polymers division. First-quarter earnings were considerably higher than in the same quarter of 2007.
Sales in the performance products segment were close to the level achieved in the same quarter of 2007 due to good business performance in the care chemicals division. Prices of vitamins, in particular, were increased, and fixed costs were reduced.
Sales in the functional solutions segment increased slightly due to higher volumes and prices. The catalysts division, in particular, made a significant contribution to this rise, despite negative currency effects. However, earnings decreased.
Lastly, sales in the agricultural solutions segment increased due to higher volumes and sales prices compared with the first quarter of 2007. Earnings therefore also increased significantly.