Daily Chemical Reaction
Schuhplattler! – BASF Preliminary 4Q Results Beat Street View, Global Chemical Sector Optimism High
- BASF preliminary 4Q results beat Street expectations and add credibility to several recent constructive peer updates. As sector confidence grows with 4Q20 postings, durability concerns with profit levels will lag and likely rise.
- We highlight multiple corporate items (e.g., Oriental Aromatics, Yansab, FMC & BASF business updates; Air Liquide, Arburg, Ashland, Trammo, Braskem & OMV strategic updates; Olin & Kemira facility updates)
- Other relevant items within this report include a view of ex-US naphtha values relative to USGC ethane, estimates of global spending on the green energy transition, & charts of semiconductor supply serving the auto market.
See PDF below for all charts, tables and diagrams
Exhibit #1: Asia spot methanol values have increased relative to US levels since the start of 2021 due to increased North American supply. We flag recent trends in China and US spot levels and highlight current spot profit trends in each region in our research today.
Source: Bloomberg, C-MACC Analysis, January 2021
Three primary items to take note of today: First, 4Q20 commodity and intermediate profits appear likely to exceed lagging Street estimates notably. We have highlighted this theme in many of our reports recently. We use the BASF preliminary results this morning as evidence that a lagging Street consensus increase will likely result in many chemical sector 4Q20 results exceeding expectations. To set the stage per our view, BASF preliminary 4Q20 adj. EBIT beat the Street consensus estimate by roughly 30%. In comparison, sales exceeded the average estimate by ~9%, and the report came after several 4Q20 guidance updates (Huntsman, etc.) that suggested a better-than-expected reporting season for peers. BASF 4Q20 preliminary results display strength in its Materials, Chemicals, and Industrial Solution segments but weakness in Surface Treatment (likely the result of auto weakness).On the whole, we see the release as a positive for polyurethane peers, such as Dow, Covestro, Huntsman, and in broader intermediates, such as Eastman, Ashland, and Arkema. Second, we highlight a recent demand-pull on both Ex-US naphtha and USGC ethane, which has worked to hold the relative price levels seen since late 2020. The spread remains much lower YoY, as can be seen in Exhibit #2. Third, we flag a few notable global methanol market trends. We highlighted Mitsubishi Corp start-up of a Trinidad and Tobago methanol plant yesterday. Today, we show the decline in US spot methanol values since the start of the year in Exhibit #3, relative to Asia values in Exhibit #1, and compare US per-unit profit levels to China in Exhibit #4. We continue to view the profit setting as notably positive for North American producers, such as Methanex, SCC, Natgasoline, Celanese, and Mitsui Chemicals. And, we flag recent support in acetyl chain metrics as also a broad-based plus. Altogether, our research today highlights higher YoY chemical sector prices and profit and evidence of rising production.
- Relevant Global Chemical Sector Corporate Items:
- Air Liquide makes strategic investment to support large scale renewable hydrogen production in France
- Orsted, Air Liquide add to European hydrogen momentum
- Arburg Acquires Longtime Electric Drive Partner AMK
- Ashland to acquire Schülke & Mayr personal care business
- BASF signals a significant jump in earnings, sales in fourth quarter, beats consensus. See full release in LINK. We estimate BASF 4Q preliminary sales and adj. EBIT estimates exceeded the Street consensus view by 9% and 31%, respectively. Per our view, the primary takeaway extracted directly from the release is that sales increased 8% YoY in 4Q20, and both volume and average prices were broadly higher during the quarter. And, narrowing this down to product chains, we find release commentary noting that “The Materials, Chemicals and Industrial Solutions segments considerably exceeded average analyst estimates for EBIT before special items in the fourth quarter of 2020. EBIT before special items fell slightly short of average analyst estimates in the Surface Technologies and Nutrition & Care segments and was considerably below analyst consensus in the Agricultural Solutions segment, mainly due to negative currency effects.” We view positive results seen in the Materials, Chemicals and Industrial Solution segments as a positive read-through for peers in these segments, such as Dow.
- Braskem chooses Port of Rotterdam for bioplastics storage
- DOMO to exclusively produce and commercialize TECHNYL
- Equipolymers improves Viridis PET grade, now made with 30% recycled feedstock
- FMC cuts fourth-quarter results guidance. We note that part of the guidance cut is due to supply-chain issues.
- Ganfeng sees lithium supplies tightening
- Johnson Matthey builds up catalyst-coated membranes capacity at UK site
- Kemira to close sodium chlorate production line at site in Finland
- LANXESS offers new flame-retardant thermoplastic composite materials with a polyamide 6 matrix
- Highly Innovative Fuels (HIF), a Chilean firms, signs MOU with Mabanaft for green-methanol-to-fuel project
- Olin plans to shutter Freeport trichloroethylene, anhydrous HCl. Also, see release in LINK.
- OMV to expand steam cracker, petchems units in Burghausen, Germany
- Orbia appoints new CEO
- Oriental Aromatics announces year-end 2020 preliminary results
- Trammo to cooperate with a Dutch engineering firm on green ammonia projects
- Yanbu National Petrochemical Co. (Yansab) announces interim 2020 YTD results
- Bakken Midstream Mulling Ethane-Natural Gas Power Plant
- Bakken Midstream to supply ethane to US baseload power plant
- Biden set to rejoin Paris climate accord, impose curbs on US oil industry
- China’s 2020 refinery output rises 3% to record; gas output up nearly 10%
- China drew on crude oil inventories in December, unlikely to become a trend
- Crude demand lower on Q1 lockdowns, OPEC+ gains depend on US producers
- EIA forecasts less power generation from natural gas because of rising fuel costs
- Energy Transfer loads first ethane supertanker at Texas export terminal
- Equinor awarded 17 new production licenses on the Norwegian continental shelf
- Global refinery throughput expected to rebound in 2021: IEA
- First VLEC shipment leaves Orbit facility for Satellite cracker in China
- Halliburton points to oil industry recovery after profit beat
- Let’s Get It Started, Encore Edition – The 2021 Outlook For Permian Oil and Gas Markets
- Levitating – Western Canada’s Crude Oil Supplies to Reach Record Highs in 2021
- Oil above $56 on US stimulus hopes ahead of Biden inauguration
- Oil gains on stimulus optimism ahead of Biden inauguration
- Oil companies, aid groups, plan to press Biden to allow Venezuela fuel swaps
- Oil From The North Country, Part 2 – As More Canadian Crude Flows South, A Push To Expand Pipes
- Petroperu to wrap up modernization of Talara refinery
- Rising oil prices test US producers’ willpower
- Trinidad to relaunch tender for mothballed refinery
- UAE squares Opec commitments, capacity growth plans
- US crude oil inventory draws expected to extend amid steady exports
- East-bound naphtha to rise in Jan, Feb
- Asian naphtha market shows signs of recovery
- European naphtha robust into 2021
- Asian ethylene sector braces for new supply – a boost for naphtha demand in the region
Exhibit #2: Ex-US naphtha values have recently risen with crude oil values and improved demand due to Asia ethylene cracker restarts, while US ethane demand is also improving as a result of favored light-cracking, higher USGC cracker run-rates, and broadening market pulls. See news of the US ethane tanker loadings at the Orbit facility above. All in, Ex-US naphtha values have remained at a similar level relative to US ethane seen in late 4Q20 but lower YoY.
Source: Bloomberg, C-MACC Analysis, January 2021
- Supply Chain & Commodity Chemicals:
- China Spot Paraformaldehyde sees tighter conditions, higher prices
- ECHA adds two substances to the SVHC candidate list
- India’s GNAL delays commissioning of new caustic soda line to August
- China Lithium Hydroxide Market reflect support as prices modestly rise
- Singapore’s 2020 chemical fixed asset investments fall; overall FAI grows
- Singapore petrochemical exports snap 27-month decline; up 11.5% in Dec
- UK chemicals face continued disruption from post-Brexit paperwork, container shortages
- We continue to flag China spot LDPE, HDPE, LLDPE, PP, PVC, and PET prices daily.
- China methanol prices [LINK] reflect support WoW, and acetic acid spot values are rebounding [LINK].
Exhibit #3: US methanol spot values have declined during the past three weeks amid increased supply
Source: Bloomberg, Nexant, C-MACC, January 2021
Exhibit #4: US methanol margins reflect levels seen at the start of 2020 and well above the 2019 and 2020 averages. China methanol margins have also recently improved and closed the relative spread with the US.
Source: Bloomberg, Nexant, C-MACC, January 2021
- Sustainability, Clean Energy, Recycling & ESG:
- General Motors forges ahead toward a future of Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions, and Zero Congestion at CES 2021
- National Carbon Capture Center at Wilsonville achieves milestone with ‘first fire’ of natural gas testing system
Source: BloombergNEF, Adezenoso.com, C-MACC, January 2021
- Other Industry & Downstream:
- Procter & Gamble F2Q21 earnings top expectations, led by higher cleaning product and grooming tool demand
- ASML, a global supplier to the semiconductor industry, beats estimates, grapples with chip supply shortage. Also, see LINK and its 4Q report in LINK.
Exhibit #6: We highlight the exhibit below to show automotive-semiconductor demand by core segment – see the full report in LINK – and to accompany the news items above, Exhibit #7 and further detail on this industry in the McKinsey report Mobility trends: What’s ahead for automotive semiconductors
Source: McKinsey, Intrinsix, C-MACC, January 2021
Exhibit #7: Electronics are estimated to account for more than 40% of a vehicle’s cost per the report titled An Automotive Value Chain In Flux that displays the flow chart below to highlight the significant auto semi players
Source: Semiengineering.com, C-MACC, January 2021