THE WOODLANDS, TEXAS (Sept. 14, 4 p.m. ET) — Huntsman Corp. has doubled epoxy resin capacity at its plant in Monthey, Switzerland, and is studying a potential major expansion of a similar plant in McIntosh, Ala.
Huntsman, a specialty chemicals maker based in The Woodlands, completed the Swiss expansion earlier this year. Around the same time, the firm also enhanced its ability to make purified epoxy resins in McIntosh, officials said in a Sept. 14 news release.
A potential new production line in McIntosh “will further boost global production of all types of multifunctional epoxy resins,” they added. A “multimillion-dollar, in-depth” engineering study being conducted in McIntosh focuses on the new project.
Increased demand for multifunctional epoxies as a replacement for aluminum and other materials in aerospace and similar markets is driving the expansion effort.
“These investments will bring enormous benefit and value to our customers ... helping them address some of the engineering challenges they face ... to produce lighter, more efficient materials,” James Huntsman, president of the company's Advanced Materials division, said in the release.
In the first half of 2011, Huntsman's sales grew more than 27 percent to $5.6 billion. The firm also posted a first-half profit of $191 million after losing $56 million in the same period last year.
Sales in Huntsman's polyurethanes unit grew 28 percent to $2.2 billion, while the unit's pretax profit more than doubled to $257 million.
In Advanced Materials — including epoxies — first-half sales grew 16 percent to $711 million, but pretax profit fell 20 percent to $67 million. Officials cited higher manufacturing, selling, general and administrative costs as reasons for the decrease.
On Wall Street, Huntsman's per-share stock price began the year around $16 and peaked near $21 in early May. But widespread market weakness had caused the price to fall to near $12 in late trading Sept. 14.