Westlake Chemical Corp. is looking for better results in 2021 after the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the firm in 2020.
The Houston-based materials and finished products maker saw its 2020 sales fall 8 percent to $7.5 billion, as profit for the year tumbled almost 24 percent to $373 million.
Westlake's vinyls unit — including PVC resin, PVC pipes and fittings and PVC siding and profiles for fencing, decking, windows and doors — reported 2020 sales down 5 percent to just under $6.3 billion. At Westlake's olefins unit, including polyethylene resin, sales were down 20 percent to $1.5 billion for the year.
In 2020 operating profit, Westlake's vinyls unit saw results decline almost 50 percent to $301 million. Olefins' operating profit for the year was down almost 63 percent to $160 million.
In a Feb. 23 news release, President and CEO Albert Chao said that Westlake "had a strong finish to the year" as the firm restarted production in Lake Charles, La., following two hurricanes.
"With our operations restored in the middle of the fourth quarter, we were able to capitalize on the robust global demand and benefit from higher prices and margins for most of our products," he added.
Looking to 2021, Chao said that "we believe this strength in global demand in polyethylene and PVC, coupled with the rise in housing starts and new building permits will continue. ...This will also highlight the value in our downstream building products business."
On Wall Street, Westlake's per-share stock price bottomed out near $34 in mid-March amid pandemic uncertainty. It soon recovered and had soared to just under $89 in early trading Feb. 24.
Westlake employs 9,400 worldwide at 36 sites in North America, 10 in Europe and 5 in Asia.