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LyondellBasell and Eastman both post 2013 profits

By: Frank Esposito

February 5, 2014

Polyolefins leader LyondellBasell Industries and specialty plastics and chemicals maker Eastman Chemical Co. each posted full-year profit gains for 2013.

Houston-based LyondellBasell saw yearly profit rise almost 36 percent to almost $3.9 billion, even as annual sales fell almost 3 percent to just under $44.1 billion. Eastman – based in Kingsport, Tenn. – saw 2013 profit more than double to almost $1.2 billion as sales jumped more than 15 percent to almost $9.4 billion.

In a Jan. 31 news release, LyondellBasell chief executive officer Jim Gallogly said that his firm achieved record earnings in 2013, including the best fourth-quarter results in the company's history. Gallogly added that LyondellBasell's 2013 performance "continued a pattern of solid financial results built on our back-to-basics strategy."

Looking to 2014, Gallogly said that the U.S. natural gas liquids advantage "continues to evolve in a very positive way, and we are executing our growth projects rapidly to take advantage of these market opportunities." A recent restart of a methanol plant in Channelview, Texas, and other announced projects "focus on capturing additional advantages from U.S. shale gas ahead of our competition," he added.

LyondellBasell is adding capacity for ethylene feedstock at three sites in Texas. The firm also has announced new polyethylene capacity via debottleneckings, and officials have said larger PE expansions are being considered.

Olefins and polyolefins units in the Americas and in its Europe/Asia/International group ranked as LyondellBasell's two largest businesses in 2013. Each unit saw sales grow about 1 percent during 2013, with the Americas reaching almost $13.1 billion and EAI nearly touching $14.7 billion.

Operating income for olefins and polyolefins in the Americas grew almost 23 percent to almost $3.3 billion, while results in that same category in EAI almost tripled to $377 million.

Eastman's 2013 results "represent the fourth consecutive year of strong earnings growth" for the firm, CEO Mark Costa said in a Jan. 30 news release.

Sales in Eastman's Advanced Materials unit – including Tritan-brand copolyester, as well as performance films and interlayers acquired when the firm bought Solutia Inc. in 2012 – grew almost 39 percent to more than $2.3 billion. The unit's operating earnings for 2013 also more than tripled to $257 million.

Based on sales, Advanced Materials was the second-largest of Eastman's five operating units in 2013.

Per-share stock prices for both LyondellBasell and Eastman have fared well in the last year. LyondellBasell's per-share price was under $60 in early 2013 but closed at just over $78 on Feb. 4. Eastman's per-share price was under $70 in early 2013 but closed at $77 on Feb. 4.