“In the second quarter of 2015, we improved our sales and earnings despite lower growth in some markets and continuing volatile raw material prices. In the first half of 2015, our earnings matched the level of the first half of the previous year – in line with our full-year outlook,” said Dr. Kurt Bock, chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE.
Income from operations (EBIT) before special items rose by €31 million to around €2.0 billion, largely through the significantly increased contribution from the Functional Materials & Solutions segment as well as lower expenses in Other. While earnings were only slightly down in the Chemicals segment, the other segments posted considerable declines.
EBIT grew by €106 million to €2.0 billion in the second quarter compared with the same period of the previous year. At €1.3 billion, net income matched the level of the second quarter of 2014. Earnings per share were €1.38 in the second quarter of 2015, compared with €1.37 in the same period of 2014.
In the first half of 2015, sales grew by 3% to €39.1 billion compared with the first half of 2014, despite slightly declining sales volumes in the chemicals business. At around €4.1 billion, EBIT before special items matched the level of the first half of the previous year. The oil price-related decline in the Oil & Gas segment dampened earnings, while the Functional Materials & Solutions and Chemicals segments provided support through greater contributions. The Agricultural Solutions segment matched the earnings of the previous first half; the Performance Products segment and Other remained below the level of the same period of 2014.
Cash provided by operating activities in the first half of 2015 rose by €2.4 billion to €5.1 billion.
“This was almost a doubling of the previous half-year level and was predominantly the result of a reduction in inventories of €1.3 billion. Contributing to this were seasonal effects in the natural gas trading and crop protection businesses as well as the continuing optimization of our inventory management,” said Dr. Hans-Ulrich Engel, CFO of BASF SE.
In particular, sales in the Chemicals segment were €4.0 billion, down 8% compared with the second quarter of 2014. Lower raw material costs led to a sharp drop in prices, especially in the Petrochemicals division.
In the first half of 2015, growth remained behind the company’s expectations for the global economy as well as for global industrial and chemical production. The expectations for the global economic environment in 2015 have thus been reduced (previous forecast in parentheses):
• Growth of gross domestic product: 2.4% (2.8%)
• Growth in industrial production: 2.9% (3.6%)
• Growth in chemical production: 3.8% (4.2%)
• An average euro-to-dollar exchange rate of $1.15 per euro ($1.20 per euro)
• An average oil price for the year of $60 to $70 per barrel (unchanged)
“For the full year 2015, we now expect somewhat weaker growth for the global economy as well as global industrial and chemical production than was foreseen six months ago,” Bock reported. “Despite continuing high risks, we stand by our outlook for 2015: We aim to perform well and slightly increase sales in a volatile and challenging environment. We are striving for EBIT before special items that matches the level of the previous year.”