Covestro gets off to better-than-expected start in 2023

Covestro gets off to better-than-expected start in 2023
MOSCOW (MRC) -- Covestro got off to a better start than expected in the 2023 fiscal year. Despite a still weak level of demand in a business environment that remains challenging, the company was able to limit the related negative impacts, said the company.

Group sales were down 20.1% in 1Q 2023, to EUR 3.7 bn (1Q 2022: EUR 4.7 bn), among other things due to a drop in volumes sold and a lower selling price level. The Group's EBITDA amounted to EUR 286 M and was thus 64.5% lower year over year (1Q 2022: EUR 806 M) due to a drop in volumes sold and lower margins. However, this result significantly exceeded the company's own expectations of EUR 100 M to EUR 150 M as well as recent analysts' estimates of EUR 158 M for 1Q 2023.

That was due in particular to the Group's focus on efficiency as part of its Sustainable Future strategy. Net income in 1Q 2023 fell to EUR -26 M (1Q 2022: EUR 416 M), while the free operating cash flow (FOCF) was EUR -139 M (1Q 2022: EUR 17 M). As the results for 1Q 2023 demonstrate, Covestro is well positioned with its strategic and structural setup to successfully overcome challenges on its own.

While the Performance Materials segment focuses on the reliable supply of standard products at competitive market prices, the Solutions & Specialities segment serves the need for complex products with a high pace of innovation in combination with application technology services. Covestro can thus leverage the individual strengths of both segments in their respective competitive landscapes ideally and gear them to customers' needs. Group sales in the Performance Materials segment fell by 25.0% to EUR 1.8 bn (1Q 2022: EUR 2.4 bn).

That was attributable in particular to the decline in volumes sold and lower average selling prices, mainly as a result of continued weak demand. The segment's EBITDA declined by 72.1% year over year to EUR 173 M (1Q 2022: EUR 620 M) due to lower margins and a reduction in volumes sold driven by demand and availability factors. The free operating cash flow declined to EUR -57 M (1Q 2022: EUR 112 M), primarily as a result of the drop in EBITDA. Sales in the Solutions & Specialties segment fell by 15.3% to EUR 1.9 bn (1Q 2022: EUR 2.2 bn), mainly on the back of a decline in volumes sold and lower average selling prices, both due to weaker demand.

The segment's EBITDA fell in 1Q 2023 by 26.3% year over year to EUR 165 M (1Q 2022: EUR 224 M). Here, too, the main drivers behind this decline were the demand-related decrease in volumes sold. However, the rise in margins had a positive effect as lower raw material prices outweighed the lower selling prices. The free operating cash flow increased by 67.1% to EUR -48 M (1Q 2022: EUR -146 M), mainly because of the fact that less cash was tied up in working capital compared to in 1Q 2022.

We remind, Covestro successfully started up a new world-scale facility for the production of chlorine in Tarragona, Spain. It is the first world-scale production plant for chlorine based upon the highly innovative and energy efficient ODC (oxygen depolarized cathode) technology invented by Covestro and its partners.

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Russia starts diesel exports to Chile

Russia starts diesel exports to Chile

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russia has started diesel exports to Chile, expanding its oil products supplies to Latin America after a European Union embargo forced traders to find new outlets, as per Reuters.

According to Refinitiv data, two cargoes loaded in April in Russia’s Baltic port of Primorsk with about 73,000 tons of diesel heading to Guayacan port in Chile.

Since the EU embargo on importing oil products of Russian origin went into effect in February, Russia has diverted its sea-borne diesel supplies to Asia, Africa, the Middle East and increasingly to Latin America.

In January-April, Russia exported to Latin and South American countries about 1.5 million tons of diesel, mainly to Brazil, after 211,000 tons in the whole 2022, Refinitiv data showed.

Russian diesel is gaining market share from the United States, which traditionally accounts for most of Brazil’s diesel imports. Brazil buys about 30% of its diesel abroad.

The Group of Seven rich nations, the European Union and Australia have set price caps at USD100 per barrel on Russian oil products that trade at a premium to crude, principally diesel, and USD45 per barrel for products that trade at a discount, such as fuel oil and naphtha.

We remind, Russia's second-largest oil producer Lukoil said on Thursday its subsidiary LITASCO had completed the sale of the ISAB oil refinery in Sicily to Cypriot private equity firm G.O.I. Energy following approval by Italian authorities.

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GAIL plans USD4.9-B ethane cracker in West India

GAIL plans USD4.9-B ethane cracker in West India

MOSCOW (MRC) -- GAIL (India) Ltd, the country's top gas supplier, plans to build a USD4.89-B ethane cracker near its liquefied natural gas (LNG) import plant in Western India, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said, as it seeks to meet an expected surge in demand, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Indian companies are boosting their petrochemical production capacity as the expanding economy boosts the need for goods ranging from plastics to paints and adhesives. A cracker produces ethylene, required for products such as plastics.

Demand for petrochemicals could nearly triple by 2040, according to estimates by top refiner Indian Oil, forcing companies to make big investments to set up new facilities across the country.

GAIL is looking for land in the coastal region of Dabhol in Maharashtra state for the 1.5 million tons a year (mtpa) cracker project, one of the sources told Reuters. GAIL operates a 5 mtpa LNG plant at Dabhol. The company plans to import ethane from the United States for the project, the source said.

GAIL's communications office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. "We are trying to sort out challenges around acquiring land, most likely, in or around Dabhol ... we are hoping to receive financial support from the state government," the source said.

GAIL is also exploring the possibility to acquire land in Madhya Pradesh, which neighbors Maharashtra, if a deal in Dabhol doesn't materialize, the person said. The proposed dual-feed cracker will also have capability to crack up to 40% liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), enabling the option to switch to less expensive feedstock to maximize margins.

India's per capita petrochemical consumption is about one-third of the global average. Asia's third-largest economy annually consumes 25 million to 30 million tons of petrochemicals.

We remind, GAIL Gas Limited is also steering its pricing mechanism in line with the Government of India's guideline to pass on new domestic gas pricing benefits to its customers and has announced a substantial reduction in prices with effect from 9th April 2023. GAIL Gas Limited has announced a reduction in its Domestic PNG prices by Rs. 7 per SCM in Bengaluru and Dakshin Kannada and Rs. 6 per SCM in all its other Geographical areas. The new effective Domestic PNG Prices is Rs 52.50 per SCM in Dewas, Meerut, Sonipat, Taj Trapezium Zone, Raisen, Mirzapur, Dhanbad, Adityapur and Rourkela and Rs 51.50 per SCM for Bengaluru & Dakshin Kannada.

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Celanese Q1 adjusted earnings beats guidance

Celanese Q1 adjusted earnings beats guidance

MOSCOW (MRC) -- US-based acetyls and engineered materials producer Celanese reported a Q1 adjusted earnings/share of USD2.01, beating its earlier guidance of USD1.50-1.75, said the company.

Despite the guidance beat, the company's first quarter net income still fell year on year. The following tables show the company's Q1 financial performance. Figures are in millions of dollars. So far, underlying demand in April and May have increased by insignificant amounts over March. The increase has been too small to support higher prices.

In such a market, Celanese is trying to modestly increase volumes in the second quarter given its stronger start when compared with that for the first quarter. Also, the company wants to preserve its pricing spreads over raw-material costs.

Celanese expects adjusted earnings/share to reach USD2.50 in the second quarter, an increase that it attributes to steps taken by the company. Adjusted earnings/share could increase higher if demand increases to the extent that it could support higher prices, particularly in the company's Acetyl Chain business.

For the Acetyl Chain business, adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) should be USD330m-360m. That compares with USD316m in Q1 adjusted EBIT.

For Engineered Materials, Celanese expects to report USD235m-260m in adjusted EBIT. That compared with USD215m in adjusted EBIT that Celanese reported in the first quarter.

We remind, Celanese Corporation, a global chemical and specialty materials company, announced today two joint venture (JV) actions with Mitsui & Co., Ltd. to extend their longstanding strategic partnership. Celanese announced the signing of a term sheet to form a Food Ingredients JV with Mitsui, subject to customary approvals.

Celanese Corporation is a global chemical leader in the production of differentiated chemistry solutions and specialty materials used in most major industries and consumer applications.

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Asahi Kasei expects to recover from full-year net loss on improving chems demand

Asahi Kasei expects to recover from full-year net loss on improving chems demand

MOSCOW (MRC) -- -Japanese producer Asahi Kasei said it expects to recover from the full-year net loss it registered for the year ending 31 March, with petrochemical demand and prices expected to pick up in the latter half of the fiscal year, said the company.

The company swung to a net loss of Yen (Y) 91.3bn in the year ending 31 March 2023 from a gain of Y161.9bn in the previous year, weighed down by an impairment loss of Y185bn related to its Polypore lithium-ion membrane battery separators business.

Asahi Kasei's operating income fell by 36.7% year on year to Y128.4bn in the year to 31 March, weighed down by lingering semiconductor shortages and lockdowns in China, which resulted in sluggish demand and higher feedstock prices.

However, overall sales rose by 10.8% year on year to a record Y2.73trillion for the year ending 31 March. This was supported by a weaker yen and increased petrochemical prices.

For the first half of its fiscal year ending 30 September, the company expects to generate a net income of Y28bn, with further improvement at Y72bn for the six-month period ending 31 March 2024.

The company said that while high energy costs persist, certain feedstock prices are trending downward at its main material business unit. Asahi Kasei also sees gradual demand improvement for its automotive-related products after it was impacted by the global semiconductor shortage last year.

We remind, Asahi Kasei and Microwave Chemical launched a joint demonstration project in April 2023 with the objective of commercializing a chemical recycling process for polyamide 66 using microwave technology.

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