Celanese reported first-quarter net earnings of $142 million, compared with $14 million in the same period last year. The year-ago period included charges totaling $135 million, related mostly to the closure of its acetate plant at Spondon, U.K. Reported earnings rose 50%, to 96 cts/share, compared with analysts’ consensus of 84 cts/share, as reported by Reuters Thomson (New York). Sales rose 14%, to $1.6 billion, on higher selling prices across all segments and improved volumes. Raw material costs lowered operating profit in Celanese’s advanced engineered materials unit, but the company’s other segments managed to offset higher raw material costs through pricing actions and higher volumes.
Advanced engineered materials’ profits fell 21%, to $38 million. Results were also dampened by charges of $12 million related to capacity expansions in Europe. In its consumer specialties segment, profits rose to $54 million compared with a loss of $30 million in the year-ago period, as higher volumes and selling prices more than offset rising raw material costs. Celanese’s industrial specialties unit reported profits up more than 100%, to $25 million, on higher volumes, more favorable product mix, and higher selling prices. Acetyl intermediates profits rose to $112 million, compared with breakeven in the same period last year, due to higher selling prices and gains in manufacturing efficiency, including the closure of its Pardies, France facility.
“Advanced technologies, leading global portfolio positions and innovative customer-focused solutions combined to deliver significantly improved earnings in the first quarter and are expected to dive sustained earnings growth for Celanese throughout 2011,” says David Weidman, chairman and CEO. “Additionally, our integrated business model continues to demonstrate the earnings growth resiliency it has successfully shown in the past, even in an environment of escalating raw material and energy costs.”
Celanese has raised its full-year earnings guidance on the expectation of “sustained global economic growth,” and now expects adjusted earnings of at least $4.22/share, compared with prior guidance of about $3.97/share and 2010 earnings of $3.37/share. Operating Ebitda is expected to be at least $1.3 billion, compared with $1.1 billion in 2010.