Top 75 U.S. Chemical Producers
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CHEMICAL EARNINGS DOWN
[C&EN, May 21, 2001]

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QUARTER

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AT LAST INVESTORS LIKE CHEMICALS

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Ashland

Nova Chemicals

Agrium

Rohm and Haas

Equistar Chemicals

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NEWS OF THE WEEK
BUSINESS
June 25, 2001
Volume 79, Number 26
CENEAR 79 26 pp. 10
ISSN 0009-2347
[Previous Story] [Next Story]

SECOND QUARTER: ANOTHER WEAKLING
Earnings warnings and plant actions signal slow period for chemical industry

WILLIAM STORCK

Second-quarter results will be little, if any, better than those seen in the first three months of this year, according to statements from chemical companies.

7926earn
ILL EFFECTS Agrium's new export-oriented urea plant in Argentina--like other fertilizer plants--is feeling the effects of bad weather in North America.
AGRIUM PHOTO
At basic chemicals maker Nova Chemicals, for instance, instead of an expected improvement over the first quarter's loss of 12 cents a share, the company is now forecasting a loss of 25 to 30 cents. Nova says its olefins and polyolefins business is showing improvement, but its styrenics business is weaker than it was in the first quarter because of poor demand and lower margins.

Rohm and Haas's chairman and chief executive officer, Rajiv L. Gupta, believes that there is nothing that signals a significant upturn in market demand even though the company sees indications that steep volume declines and high raw material costs may be abating. The specialty chemicals producer is projecting earnings of 27 to 29 cents per share, compared with 29 cents in the previous quarter and 42 cents in the second quarter of last year.

And Ashland expects combined results from its chemical units in the last six months of its fiscal year ending Sept. 30 to fall slightly below results in the same period of last year.

Severe weather in North America--ranging from drought to extremely wet or flood conditions--has cut into Agrium's results. The Canadian fertilizer producer expects first-half earnings to be only slightly ahead of last year's 38 cents a share, but well short of Wall Street's consensus estimate of 63 cents a share.

In another economy-related announcement, Equistar Chemicals says that it will extend the current shutdown of its Lake Charles, La., olefins plant until market conditions improve and it needs the additional production.

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