Q4 sales jump as demand swings back to pre-pandemic levels / Resumption of plan to expand Clear Lake acetic-acid capacity / Plans to build liquid crystal polymer plant in China
Fourth-quarter operating profit at Celanese (Dallas, Texas / USA; www.celanese.com) tripled year-on-year to USD 203m (EUR 169m) and sales rose 11% to USD 1.59 bn as demand across most end-markets served by its Engineered Materials and Acetyl Chain segments returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Full-year sales plunged 10.2% to USD 5.7 bn, following year-on-year declines in pricing and volume by 6% and 5%, respectively, amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Adjusted earnings-per-share (EPS) was USD 7.64, down from USD 9.53 the year before, and is expected at USD 9.50-10.00 for this year.

Engineered Materials, which includes PBT, POM, LCP, UHMW-PE, PPS, as well as polyamide and PEEK compounds, saw strong demand recovery, particularly in automotive in Asia, modest recovery in medical and continued resilience in electronics. Sales rose 6.1% to USD 572m but costs associated with the Frankfurt POM turnaround and lower earnings from affiliated companies pushed operating profit down 30% to USD 62m.

Acetyl Chain, whose revenue contributed nearly 60% to the group last year, generated quarterly sales of USD 910m, up 18% year-on-year, thanks to tight industry conditions in November and December, particularly in Chinese acetic acid. Operating profit had a 72% lift to USD 186m despite higher raw-material costs and the negative impact of the Clear Lake facility turnaround.

CEO Lori Ryerkerk said Celanese has decided to resume the expansion of the Clear Lake acetic-acid capacity from 1.3m t, with completion planned for the first half of 2023. It announced an 18-month deferral of the project last April. In 2019, the plan was to expand it to 2m t, but now, she said it will expand to an even higher level, at 2.6m t. Celanese has also decided to maintain its acetic-acid capacity at both Nanjing, China and Singapore (see Plasteurope.com of 01.02.2019).

Celanese announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Mitsubishi Gas Chemical (MGC, Tokyo / Japan; www.mgc.co.jp/eng) to restructure Korea Engineering Plastics (KEP, Seoul / South Korea; www.kepital.com/en), a joint venture owned 50% by Celanese, 40% by MGC and 10% by Mitsubishi Corp.

Ryerkerk said the deal converts KEP into a manufacturing entity, which will provide Engineered Materials with direct offtake of around 70 kt of low-cost POM polymerisation in Asia.

Celanese meanwhile announced plans to build a liquid crystal polymer (LCP) plant in China to support growth in its “Vectra” and “Zenit” LCP family of high-performance product lines, which are needed in 5G, autonomous driving and vehicle electrification. When completed in 2024, Celanese will be the only global LCP producer with production in both Asia and Western hemispheres.
08.02.2021 Plasteurope.com [246873-0]
Published on 08.02.2021
Celanese: US-Konzern verzeichnet schwieriges Jahr 2020German version of this article...

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