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Kraton reports higher 2011 sales, but lower profit

By: Frank Esposito

March 9, 2012

HOUSTON (March 9, 12 p.m. ET) — For Kraton Performance Polymers Inc., 2011 was a mixed bag, with sales up but profit down.

Houston-based Kraton — which ranks as the world’s largest producer of styrenic block copolymers — saw sales for full-year 2011 climb 17 percent to more than $1.4 billion. In a Feb. 29 news release, officials said that the sales increase “was primarily the result of global product sale price increases…which were implemented primarily in response to rising raw material costs.”

The firm’s profit, however, fell more than 6 percent to less than $91 million. Higher prices for butadiene feedstock played a role in the decrease, although President and CEO Kevin Fograrty said in the release that Kraton “was able to defend unit margins through continued implementation of our Price Right strategy. As butadiene prices rose throughout much of the year, reaching record levels in the third quarter.”

Looking ahead to 2012, officials said that they “are encouraged by customer order patterns experienced in the first two months of the first quarter.”

Kraton’s SBCs are used in standard plastic applications such as IV bags, as well as in adhesives, sealants, coatings, paving and roofing. The firm’s Cariflex-brand synthetic polyisoprene rubber and latex materials enjoyed solid growth in 2011, officials said.

Kraton is exhibiting at NPE2012, in booth 39000.

In 2011, Kraton also celebrated the 50th anniversary of its manufacturing site in Belpre, Ohio. The 600-employee site ranks as the world’s largest production facility for styrenic thermoplastic elastomers.

On Wall Street, Kraton’s per-share stock price began 2011 around $31, but stumbled in the second half of the year and finished near $21. It’s fared better so far in 2012, and was just over $27 in early trading March 9.