- Significant sales growth due to higher volumes and prices
- Earnings considerably above previous year’s level thanks to favorable demand development and higher prices
- Successful expansion of Ecoflex production in Ludwigshafen
- Outlook 2012: significant sales increase; earnings below previous year’s level
Performance Polymers – Sales by region (Location of customer)
Sales to third parties in 2011 rose by €749 million to reach €5,138 million, thus significantly exceeding the level of the previous year (volumes 4%, prices 16%, currencies –3%). The global economic upturn led to growing demand in nearly all customer sectors. In the engineering plastics business area, we posted considerable growth in sales volumes as demand grew sharply, particularly from the automotive industry in North America and Europe. As a result of the ongoing weakness in the private construction sector in the industrialized countries, however, sales volumes of foams stagnated. In the specialties business, we further strengthened our position in the fast-growing market for biodegradable plastics with the expansion of our production capacity for Ecoflex®.
In addition to an overall improvement in sales volumes, higher prices in all business areas and regions made a significant contribution to sales growth. Particularly for standard products in the polyamide value-adding chain, we raised our prices in response to higher raw material costs. However, the price increases implemented for engineering plastics in North America and Asia were partially offset by negative currency effects.
Income from operations rose considerably as a result of favorable demand development – especially in the automotive and textiles industries – and higher prices.
As part of our efforts to increase efficiency in the long term, we successfully expanded our Ecoflex production in Ludwigshafen and closed the less profitable plant in Schwarzheide.
In 2012, we plan to continue the expansion of our business with engineering plastics and specialties. We want these businesses to grow faster than the most important markets and thus significantly improve the division’s sales year-on-year. In order to continue implementing our strategy for profitable, lasting growth, we are strengthening our sales and marketing units and investing in research and development as well as in new production facilities. As a result of the costs associated with this, we expect that earnings will not match the level of the previous year.