Later news deadline for Plastics News
Your news each week now will be fresher than ever: Beginning with the Aug. 18 issue, Plastics News switched to a Friday closing deadline for news. The deadline previously had been nearly 24 hours earlier. Our move to electronic page transmission to our printer in Pontiac, Ill., allowed the change.
The effect was immediate, with the extra time Aug. 15 allowing us to squeeze in several late-breaking news items that Friday, including front-page coverage of Sealed Air's $5 billion purchase of W.R. Grace's packaging business.
No other plastics publication can deliver originally researched and reported news to you faster.
Or, for those of you who crave today's news today, Plastics News On the Web (http://www.plasticsnews.com) continues to post and update stories as they unfold. Any day of the week, there's a good chance you can read about that morning's hottest news on our Web site later the same afternoon.
Witness the recent threatened strike at compounder A. Schulman Inc.'s Akron, Ohio, plant. The union agreed to an 11th-hour labor pact just before midnight Aug. 15, and voted to accept the deal Sunday morning Aug. 17. News of the deal was on our Web site by midmorning Monday.
Our mission is to deliver news you can use, while it's still fresh enough to be of value to you. Our Web site coverage and our later deadlines are further signs of our commitment to do just that.
Spreading the risk
The Aug. 6 commentary on economic conditions for June and July issued by the 12 Federal Reserve Districts is an affirmation that life generally is good for most businesses. Nearly all the districts reported a moderate rate of growth, though some termed it brisk.
In Dallas' 11th District, the report notes, the expected drop in ethylene prices because of new capacity didn't materialize following the explosion that damaged Shell Chemical Co.'s Deer Park, Texas, ethylene plant.
The explosion is an example of why greater attention is being focused on the risk management market in the form of forward-pricing programs. The latest company to enter the field is, ironically, Houston-based Shell Chemical Co.
The firm created Shell Chemical Risk Management Co. to manage resin pricing contracts that establish a specified price for a future time period. The intent is to protect buyers and sellers against volatile price swings. Shell is not the first to get into the forward-pricing game. Enron Corp., also of Houston, and Louis Dreyfus Energy Corp. in Wilton, Conn., have launched similar programs.
What's remarkable about all this is that for decades many resin suppliers insisted that futures pricing couldn't be done in their industry as it has been done in others. They routinely cited the uncertainty of production in the ethylene-polyethylene chain and the many grades of PE as contributing factors.
The difference today, as opposed to previous years, is the presence of aggressive competition from abroad, particularly Asia. Forward pricing doesn't eliminate all business risks, but for some it may provide a quantum leap toward managing it.