Strong first-quarter financial results continue to roll in from materials makers.
Westlake Chemical Corp., a Houston-based maker of polyethylene and PVC resins and PVC building products, saw first-quarter sales jump 22 percent to $2.36 billion vs. the same quarter in 2020. The firm's profit ballooned more than 60 percent to $253 million.
Westlake's Vinyls unit — including PVC resin and products — posted sales growth of 21 percent to $1.82 billion, with operating profit more than doubling to $200 million. Sales in the firm's Olefins unit, including PE resin, were up almost 26 percent to $537 million, as operating profit almost tripled to $180 million.
In a May 4 news release, President and CEO Albert Chao said that Westlake "had a strong start to 2021 … as we benefited from the continuing global economic recovery … paired with higher prices and margins for many of our products."
He added that although February's severe winter storm in Texas caused widespread industry disruption, Westlake quickly responded and fully resumed operations by the end of the quarter.
"As we look further into the year, we see continuing strong global demand in our PVC, polyethylene and downstream building products business, driven by solid markets … including residential construction, packaging and healthcare," Chao said.
At DuPont Co. in Wilmington, Del., total first-quarter sales were up more than 8 percent to just under $4 billion. The firm posted $541 million in profit from continuing operations, after losing more than $500 million in that same category in the first quarter of 2020.
Sales in DuPont's Mobility & Materials unit, including nylon and other specialty resins, were up 9 percent to $1.2 billion, with pre-tax operating profit up 29 percent to $278 million. DuPont's Water & Protection unit, including Tyvek-brand PE film, saw first-quarter sales grow almost 4 percent to $1.33 billion, as pre-tax operating profit was flat at $355 million.
Executive Chairman and CEO Ed Breen said in a May 4 news release that DuPont posted positive quarterly results "despite headwinds associated with escalating raw material and logistics costs and global supply constraints of key raw materials."
DuPont also raised its financial guidance for full-year 2021, Chief Financial Officer Lori Koch said, because of "a strong start to the year, positive trends continuing in our key end markets and confidence in our team's ability to navigate through global supply constraints."
Kraton Corp. and Rogers Corp. also had good first quarters. Houston-based Kraton, whose products include styrenic block copolymers, saw quarterly sales rise more than 2 percent to $437.3 million, with operating profit almost doubling to $53.3 million. Sales at the firm's Specialty Polymers unit were up almost 25 percent to $96.7 million for the quarter.
At Rogers in Chandler, Ariz., first-quarter sales were up almost 16 percent to $229.3 million, with profit more than doubling to $31.2 million. Sales at the firm's Elastomeric Material Solutions unit grew almost 10 percent to $91.8 million.