Dow Chemical reported a slide in earnings for 2012, the result of the slowdown in the world economy in the second half of the year, according to the chemicals giant.
For the fourth quarter the company posted a net loss of $716m (€524.6m) compared with a net loss of just $20m (€40.7m) a year earlier.
Sales for the final quarter were $13.9bn (€10.2bn), down 1% on the same period in 2011. Agricultural sciences achieved a new sales record, up 17%, and increases were also reported in electronic and functional materials (up 3%), performance plastics (up 1%) and coatings and infrastructure solutions (also up 1%).
However, these increases were more than offset by declines in feedstocks and energy (down 9%) and performance materials (down 5%).
“The second half of 2012 saw significant deterioration in the markets we serve, particularly in China,” explained Dow chairman and chief executive Andrew Liveris. “In response, Dow identified and took aggressive action to mitigate the effects of a slow-to-no-growth global environment – by deploying cost and cash flow levers and by continuing to prudently manage our portfolio and prioritise growth investments.
“Our agricultural sciences business continues to outperform, driven by its technology pipeline. Performance plastics also posted strong results in the quarter, bolstered by feedstock advantages in North America and the Middle East, coupled with improving pricing momentum. In addition, our Kuwait joint ventures posted exceptional results in the quarter.”
Overall volumes across the company were flat for Q4, as a 5% decline in Western Europe offset volume growth in Asia Pacific (up 5%) and North America and Latin America (each up 1%).