Updated — Materials giants Dow Chemical Co. and LyondellBasell Industries posted mixed results in 2015, with sales down but profits up at both firms.
Both companies were affected by lower selling prices for many of their products — affected by lower global prices for crude oil — and by currency conversion issues tied in to a stronger U.S. dollar.
Full-year sales at Midland, Mich.-based Dow fell 16 percent to $48.8 billion, but profit more than doubled to almost $7.8 billion. The firm's Performance Plastics unit — including polyethylene and elastomers — saw sales slide 18 percent to less than $18.4 billion, while pretax profit surged 22 percent to almost $5.4 billion.
At Dow's Performance Materials & Chemicals unit — including polyurethanes — sales dropped 21 percent to less than $12 billion, but pretax profit more than doubled to almost $5.5 billion. Dow in December announced plans to merge with DuPont Co., another longtime leader in the global plastics and chemicals field.
In a Feb. 2 news release, Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris said that Dow's recent financial performance “firmly demonstrates that Dow has the right strategy and the right portfolio, and has and will continue to deliver under all market conditions.”
For Houston-based LyondellBasell, 2015 sales fell 28 percent to $32.7 billion, but annual profit ticked up more than 7 percent to almost $4.5 billion. Those numbers were similar for the firm's Olefins & Polyolefins-Americas unit, where sales fell almost 29 percent to just under $10 billion, as pretax profit grew 7 percent to $3.9 billion.
LyondellBasell's Olefins & Polyolefins-Europe, Asia, International unit also saw sales fall almost 24 percent to $11.6 billion, but saw no similar increase in pretax profit. That unit's pretax profit for 2015 fell 25 percent to less than $1.4 billion.
LyondellBasell's PE and PP sales volume in pounds actually increased during 2015, but the sales totals were lower financially because of lower selling prices. In the Americas, the firm's 2015 PE sales volume grew 5 percent to 6.2 billion pounds, while PP sales volume there ticked up 4 percent to 2.6 billion pounds.
For Europe, Asia and international, LyondellBasell's 2015 PE sales volume grew 8 percent to 5.6 billion pounds, as PP sales volume there grew 6 percent to 6.8 billion pounds.
“During 2015, LyondellBasell generated record earnings, advanced our growth program and continued returning cash to shareholders at an industry-leading rate,” CEO Bob Patel said in a Feb. 2 news release.