BASF third-quarter results hit by Libya oil suspension

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German chemical giant BASF said Thursday that third-quarter profits declined as customers delayed orders in face of the looming economic downturn and after unrest in Libya hit oil production.

BASF said in a statement its bottom-line net profit fell 4.3 percent to 1.2 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in the period from July to September, slightly better than analysts' forecasts.

At the same time, third-quarter revenues grew by 11.6 percent to 17.6 billion euros.

"Compared with the first half of the year, growth slowed further as expected," the statement said.

"BASF's customers planned more cautiously, reduced inventories and partially delayed orders in expectation of possible falling prices," BASF explained, predicting a steeper-than-expected slowdown in global chemicals and industrial activity this year.

Nevertheless, BASF said it was sticking to its forecast for a "significant" increase in both sales and underlying profits for the whole of 2011.

"We are managing our inventories accordingly and are continuing our cost savings programmes," said chief executive Kurt Bock.

BASF said all of its divisions had seen a rise in sales in the July-September period, with the exception of its oil division, which had suspended production in Libya as a result of the unrest there.

Nevertheless, its Libyan production had resumed this month and "is currently being ramped up," it said.

Capacity was currently 20,000 barrels a day, but it was not yet possible to say when maximum daily production capacity of 100,000 barrels would be achieved, BASF said.

© 2011 AFP

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