Saudi SABIC says 2014 outlook improving as Q3 net profits rise

Reuters

* Q3 net profit 6.47 bln riyals vs 6.31 bln year-ago

* Sales for three months to Sept. 30 up 9 percent from a yrago

* Follows profit gains by chemical firms globally

By Marwa Rashad

DUBAI, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Higher sales helped Saudi BasicIndustries Corp (SABIC) post a rise in third-quarternet profit on Sunday, in line with analyst forecasts, as thechief executive officer said the outlook for next year wasimproving.

"About the future outlook, I think 2014 will be similar to2013 or slightly better," Mohamed al-Mady told a news conferenceon Sunday after the company's results were posted on the websiteof the Saudi bourse.

Mady said he expected petrochemicals demand in the U.S.,China and Europe, SABIC's main markets, to grow next year as theglobal economy improved.

The company's sales in the third quarter rose 9 percent to48.8 billion riyals ($13 billion) over the same period in 2012,with sales from the first nine months of this year unchangedfrom last year at 140 billion riyals.

Net profit for SABIC, one of the world's biggestpetrochemicals groups and the largest listed company in theGulf, was 6.47 billion riyals in the three months to Sept. 30,compared to 6.31 billion a year ago.

Nine analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast SABIC wouldearn, on average, 6.4 billion riyals for the third quarter.

SABIC plans a new Eurobond issue later this year, as thecompany seeks to take advantage of low interest rates torefinance its total debts of around 80 billion riyals, chieffinancial officer Mutlaq al-Morished said.

The company has reduced its total debts by around 15 billionriyals over the past nine months and plans to take on some ofthe debt now held by its subsidiaries, he and Mady said.

The financial performance of SABIC, which makespetrochemicals, metals and fertilisers, is closely tied to theworld economy because its products are used extensively inconstruction, car manufacturing and other major consumer goods.

Other large chemical makers have seen their profits growsharply in the third quarter. Germany's BASF postedbetter-than-expected quarterly profit after carmakers' demandfor catalytic converters and high-tech plastics helped offsetweak overseas currencies.

Dow Chemical's net income rose 20 percent, helpedmainly by its plastics, packaging, coatings and electronicsbusinesses.

SABIC, which employs 40,000 people around the world, reliesheavily on natural gas as a raw material for its chemicalbusiness, and is facing increased competition from the UnitedStates where a shale gas boom has made new supplies available.

Last month, SABIC printed a $1 billion five-year bond, itsfirst since 2010, attracting commitments from investors worth$5.25 billion.

SABIC shares dipped 2.4 percent on Sunday on the profitstatement. They have gained 17 percent year-to-date.

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