German chemicals and plastics giant BASF (Ludwigshafen; www.basf.com
) has raised its 2021 financial targets after a strong start to the year on the back of the better-than-expected global economic recovery.
The company forecasts 2021 sales at EUR 68 bn to EUR 71 bn compared with the previous range of EUR 61 bn to EUR 64 bn. EBIT before special items is expected at EUR 5.0 bn to EUR 5.8 bn; the earlier forecast was EUR 4.1 bn to EUR 5.0 bn (see Plasteurope.com of 01.03.2021
). However, BASF CEO Martin Brudermüller appeared to somewhat curb his optimism, noting that the company has not yet overcome the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
Thanks to higher prices and volume growth, first-quarter sales incresed 16% from Q1 last year to EUR 19.4 bn. Income from operations (EBIT) excluding special items showed a stunning gain of more than 58% to EUR 2.3 bn. Net income nearly doubled to EUR 1.72 bn.
Both the materials and chemicals segments made considerably higher earnings contributions while the recovery in automotive production gave a fillip to the surface technologies segment.
At chemicals, EBIT before special items more than tripled to EUR 558m as sales advanced 16% to EUR 2.7 bn. Higher profit margins at both the petrochemicals and intermediates divisions were a result of a recovery in demand, an improvement in income from equity-accounted companies, and lower fixed costs, the company said.
At materials, sales expanded 20% to EUR 3.4 bn while EBIT before special items also more than trebled to EUR 672m, driven by the monomers division due to improved isocyanate margins.
Sales of EUR 2.1 bn at industrial solutions were flat as slightly higher sales in the dispersions and pigments division were offset by a slight decrease in performance chemicals. At EUR 266m, EBIT before special items was 2.5% weaker year-on-year.