BASF Group’s sales rose by 19% in the first quarter of 2017 to €16.9 billion. In all segments, the positive volume trend seen in previous quarters was maintained and led to growth of 8% in sales volumes. Furthermore, BASF achieved significantly higher sales prices (up 8%), especially in the Chemicals segment. Currency effects and the Chemetall business acquired from Albemarle in December 2016 also contributed to the increase in sales.
“BASF has had a good start to the year 2017,” said Dr. Kurt Bock, chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE. “The demand trends we observed over the course of 2016 continued in the first quarter of this year.”
BASF Group’s income from operations (EBIT) before special items was 29% higher at €2.5 billion. Of this amount, €2.0 billion was generated by the chemicals business, which comprises the segments Chemicals, Performance Products and Functional Materials & Solutions. Earnings in the chemicals business thus grew by 37%.
EBIT grew by €585 million to €2.5 billion compared with the first quarter of 2016. Net income rose by €322 million to €1.7 billion. Earnings per share were €1.86 in the first quarter of 2017, compared with €1.51 in the same quarter of 2016.
“We remain cautious when it comes to our outlook for the full year. We still see considerable risks with regard to macroeconomic development and the political environment,” said Bock. “We expect considerable sales growth for the BASF Group in 2017. According to our definition, that equates to an increase of at least 6% in sales. We want to achieve slightly higher EBIT before special items compared with 2016. In this case, ‘slight’ means a change of 1% to 10%; we expect the increase will be toward the top end of that range.”
In the Chemicals segment, sales rose by 36% compared with the previous first quarter to €4.1 billion, largely as a result of higher prices in the Petrochemicals and Monomers divisions. Sales were furthermore supported by the higher level of sales volumes in all divisions. Due to higher margins and volumes, EBIT before special items grew by €501 million compared with the first quarter of 2016 and reached €958 million.
Sales in the Performance Products segment grew by 9% versus the first quarter of 2016 and amounted to €4.3 billion. This was mainly the result of increased volumes in the Dispersions & Pigments, Care Chemicals and Performance Chemicals divisions. EBIT before special items declined by €40 million compared with the solid level of the previous first quarter due to lower margins and higher fixed costs and came in at €515 million.
In the Functional Materials & Solutions segment, sales grew by 18% year-on-year at €5.2 billion. This was predominantly the result of a sharp rise in sales volumes, primarily driven by higher demand from the automotive industry. Sales development was also supported by the Chemetall business acquired from Albemarle in December 2016. Compared with the previous first quarter, EBIT before special items rose by €75 million to reach €531 million, thanks in particular to the volume growth and the Chemetall acquisition.
Sales of €829 million in the Oil & Gas segment were 36% higher than in the first quarter of the prior year, mainly driven by higher prices. The price of a barrel of Brent blend crude oil averaged $54 in the first quarter of 2017 (first quarter of 2016: $34).
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