All four key chemical manufacturers suffer quarterly sales falls

JIJI

The country’s four leading chemical makers all logged year-on-year falls in group sales and pretax profit from April to June as the European debt crisis hit their core overseas petrochemical operations, according to their latest earnings reports.

Exports of petrochemical products from China to Europe declined markedly, while sales of materials for goods such as synthetic fibers and resins were also poor in the world’s second-largest economy and emerging nations.

The bleak results were also blamed on falling prices for materials used in the manufacture of electronic devices, including liquid crystal displays.

Mitsui Chemicals Inc.’s red ink in the first quarter of fiscal 2012 was attributed mainly to ¥3.5 billion in losses caused by an April explosion at a plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture. However, the facility’s operations have since recovered to between 80 and 90 percent, according to company Vice President Koichi Sano.

Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp. also logged a loss, while Sumitomo Chemical Co. revised downward its earnings estimate for the year to next March on slow recoveries in the IT-related sector, which includes LCD materials, and in petrochemicals.

An Asahi Kasei Corp. official said “profit was dragged down by price falls stemming from intensifying competition.”