Eastman Chemical Co. posted higher sales totals but lower profit in 2018.
Kingsport, Tenn.-based Eastman, a maker of specialty chemicals and Tritan-brand copolyester resins, recorded sales of a little less than $10.2 billion in 2018, up more than 6 percent vs. 2017. But the firm's net earnings slid almost 22 percent to less than $1.1 billion.
Eastman's Advanced Materials unit — including copolyester — saw sales for 2018 grow 7 percent to nearly $2.8 billion. Advanced Materials' earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) also grew more than 5 percent during 2018. The business ranked third among Eastman's four business units in 2018, with a share of just more than 27 percent of sales.
In a news release, CEO and Chairman Mark Costa said that Eastman "ended the year with a challenging fourth quarter, primarily due to reduced demand for specialty products in China as well as the slow flow through of higher raw material costs in an environment of customer destocking beyond normal seasonality."
In mid-2018, Eastman announced plans to increase capacity by 25 percent for glycol-modified PET and PCTG copolyesters at its plant in Kingsport. Those materials are sold under the Eastar, Spectar and Aspira trade names.
Looking to 2019, Costa said in the release that Eastman officials "expect slower economic growth this year, with some of the challenges from the fourth quarter to persist in the first quarter."
"With this in mind, we remain focused on growing new business revenue leveraging our innovation-driven growth model," he added.
Like many materials firms, Eastman's per-share stock price had a rough year on Wall Street in 2018, beginning the year near $99 but ending near $81 for a drop of 18 percent. The price was at $82.10 in early trading Feb. 5.