Ashland reports preliminary financial results for first quarter of fiscal 2015

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Ashland Inc., a global leader in specialty chemical solutions for consumer and industrial markets, today announced preliminary financial results for the fiscal first quarter ended December 31, 2014, said the producer in its press release.

The producer reported a fiscal Q1 2015 net income of USD32m, down 71% from USD110m from Q1 2014, in part because of the sale of its Elastomers business. Ashland took an after-tax charge of USD57m as a result of the sale.

It completed the deal near the end of 2014 when it sold the business to Lion Copolymer. The sales price was not disclosed.

In addition, Ashland had treated its Water Technologies business as a discontinued operation for its fiscal Q1 2014 earnings. As a result, the company reported a USD22m benefit from discontinued operations in Q1 2014, versus a loss of USD8m for fiscal Q1 2015.

First-quarter net sales were USD1.39bn, down 3% from USD1.43bn in Q1 2014. Sales were USD982m, down 6% from USD1.05bn in Q1 2014. As a result, Q1 gross profit rose 6.5% year on year. First-quarter operating income reached USD169m, up 18% year on year. Ashland has three business segments, with the Valvoline unit producing lubricants.

Ashland Inc. is a global leader in providing specialty chemical solutions to customers in a wide range of consumer and industrial markets, including architectural coatings, automotive, construction, energy, food and beverage, personal care and pharmaceutical. Ashland's Specialty Ingredients segment produces several polymers derived from plant and seed extracts, cellulose ethers and vinyl pyrrolidones used in food and beverages, personal-care products and coatings among others. Ashland's Performance Materials segment produces unsaturated polyester resins (UPRs) and vinyl ester resins.

Solvay to sell German-based refrigerant business and pharma propellants to Daikin

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Belgium-based chemical industrial group Solvay said it has agreed to sell its German-based refrigerant business and pharma propellants to Daikin in Japan, as its Special Chemicals Global Business Unit is gearing its activities towards selective high value-added segments in fluorine specialties and high purity chemicals, said the producer in its press release.

Solvay's Global Business Unit or GBU Special Chemicals will divest all of its businesses on its site in Frankfurt. About 75 employees will be transferred to Daikin.

Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory clearance in Germany and Austria.

The sale of the Frankfurt businesses follows the exit of the Life-Science activities in 2013. Since then, Special Chemicals has been focusing on fluor specialities with a new facility in Germany serving applications in the agrochemical industry and expanded production capacity in China to support strong growth in the electronics industry.

As MRC informed previously, in October 2014, Swiss Solvay, a privately owned multinational chemicals company, unveiled its breakthrough innovation for surface cleaning formulations. While Mirapol Surf S polymers are a well-established range of polymers for hydrophilization of surfaces such as ceramic, glass, stainless steel, Solvay launches a unique technology enabling formulators to deliver the key benefits consumers now expect for even modern plastic surfaces. With Mirapol Surf N, Solvay makes a step change in household cleaning making it effortless and longer-lasting.

Solvay S.A. is a Belgian chemical company founded in 1863, with its head office in Neder-Over-Heembeek, Brussels, Belgium. The company has diversified into two major sectors of activity: chemicals and plastics. Solvay supplies over 1500 products across 35 brands of high-performance polymers – fluoropolymers, fluoroelastomers, fluorinated fluids, semi-aromatic polyamides, sulfone polymers, aromatic ultra polymers, high-barrier polymers and cross-linked high-performance compounds.

SIBUR may raise EPS prices

MOSCOW (MRC) -- SIBUR Group, Russia's largest producer of expandable polystyrene (EPS), may increase its February contract prices for the Russian domestic market by Rb3,000/tonne, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

Converters and traders reported this news to MRC this week. Sources in SIBUR also confirmed the roumors regarding an upcoming increase in the plant's contract EPS prices of Alphapor grade for February shipments.

The reason for the price rise was the devaluation trends in the foreign exchange market in January 2015. The Russian rouble has resumed again its downward trend against the US dollar since early 2015. The Russian EPS market fully depends of imports. Domestic production capacities are not enough to meet the needs of Russian converters, reported MRC analysts. Therefore, EPS prices in the Russian market depend on prices of imported material, the price of which grew in roubles.

Russian market of bottle grade PC decreased by 25% in 2014

MOSCOW (MRC) - Russia's demand for bottle grade polycarbonate (PC) declined to 2,700 tonnes in January-December 2014, down 25% year on year, according to MRC ScanPlast.

Demand for the material over the reported period has decreased on the back of the rouble devaluation. This material is wholly imported into the country, because of the lack of the domestic production.

The main volume of imports occurred for Asia (86%), while 73% were delivered from South Korea. Major producers, who deliver the material in the Russian market were LG Chem (43%), Samyang Corporation (26%), Mitsubishi Engineering-Plastics Corp (17%).

Because of the strengthening of the dollar on world markets, the price of the Asian PC granules in Russia increased up to the level, when Russian converters' margins dropped to a critical level. Some converters even had to suspend their operation. End users refused to accept higher prices for products.

The way out was the extension of bottle service life, even the usage of bottles with with defects. Producers in their turn, often use of recycled or low-quality PC, which may contain residues of phenol, which is a threat to health.

Converters do not expect the market to improve significantly in 2015. Consumption will continue to decline if the exchange rate has stabilized at acceptable market levels. Weaker purchasing activity and worsening expectations regarding the future economy situation will have a significant pressure on demand.


PET exports from Russia surged by 38%

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Exports of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) from Russia increased in 2014 by 38% year on year, according to MRC DataScope report.

Over 28,000 tonnes of bottle grade PET were exported from Russia during the stated period. To date, Belarus is the main consumer of Russian material. Belarusian converters accounted for about 47% of the total exports. The five largest consumers also included the United Kingdom, Poland, Ukraine and Serbia.

Higher exports have been registered since early August and were caused by the devaluation of the Russian rouble.

According to MRC data, 2011 accounted for the peak exports of Russian PET. Alco-Naphtha shipped for export more than 70% of the produced material during its first year of PET production in Kaliningrad after the launch. In 2011, exports to foreign markets totalled over 72,000 tonnes. The plant was increasing its output from 2011 to 2013, reducing export shipments and strengthening its presence in the Russian market. In 2014, despite lower production, the plant raised shipments to foreign markets.

For more information on production of Russian producers, the overall market balance and the outlook of the industry, you can see in the Annual Report "PET in Russia in 2015".