LyondellBasell Industries weathered an ice storm to post strong financial results in the first quarter of 2021.
Overall sales at the Houston-based petrochemicals giant were $9.1 billion for the quarter, up 21 percent vs. the same quarter in 2020. The firm's quarterly profit more than doubled to $1.1 billion.
In an April 30 news release, CEO Bob Patel said that during February, unusually cold weather and related power outages impacted petrochemical operations across Texas and reduced LyondellBasell's production volumes.
In spite of that impact, Patel said that LyondellBasell's first-quarter performance "built upon the economic momentum we saw toward the end of last year."
"We experienced persistently strong consumer-driven demand, recovery in durable goods markets and industry supply constraints, which enabled price increases and drove margin improvements for many of our products," he added.
Quarterly sales at LyondellBasell's Olefins and Polyolefins — Americas unit surged 61 percent to $2.9 billion. The unit's operating income almost tripled to $687 million. Patel said that tight markets and strong demand drove margin improvements in both of the firm's Olefins and Polyolefins segments.
At LyondellBasell's Advanced Polymer Solutions unit, which ranks as North America's largest plastics compounder, quarterly sales grew 18 percent to $1.3 billion. Operating income for the unit jumped almost 49 percent to $104 million. Higher demand from automotive and other nondurable markets increased volumes for the APS unit, according to Patel.
Looking ahead, Patel said that LyondellBasell "is emerging stronger from the pandemic and the associated global recession."
"With no significant planned maintenance for our assets during the second quarter, we plan to operate at nearly full capacity worldwide to meet robust demand that is expected to persist due to low inventories and maintenance downtime across our industry," he added.
"Strong North American integrated polyethylene margins are anticipated to continue as U.S. producers seek to fulfill domestic order backlogs, rebuild inventories and serve export demand."
On Wall Street, LyondellBasell's per-share stock price began the year around $89.30 but was near $103.60 in early trading April 30 for an increase of 16 percent.
LyondellBasell is one of the world's largest producers of polypropylene and polyethylene resins and is North America's largest plastics compounder. The firm has operations in more than 100 countries and posted sales of $27.7 billion in 2020.