Dow announced the Q4 2023 results on 25 January. The company’s net sales were $10.7 billion, down 10% from the corresponding period last year. A decline in all operating segments was due to slower global macroeconomic activity. Local prices decreased by 13% year on year, with a fall in all operating segments, due to lower feedstock and energy costs. Sequentially, local prices were flat, reflecting modest gains in most regions. Volume increased by 2% versus the same period last year, with growth across all regions except Asia Pacific, which was flat. Sequentially, volume slipped 1%, with the impact on the company’s site in Bahia Blanca, Argentina, caused by a severe unexpected storm in December contributing to that.
The Packaging & Specialty Plastics segment net sales reached $5.6 billion over the quarter, down 7% from the year-ago figure. Local prices dropped 11% on an annualised basis, driven by lower ones globally. Currency fluctuations lifted net sales by 1%. Volume increased by 3% year on year, led by higher packaging demand, primarily in the United States, Canada and Latin America. On a sequential basis, net sales climbed 3%, led by larger merchant sales of hydrocarbons and higher polyethylene prices in all regions. Equity earnings totalled $40 million, down $16 million compared with the year-ago period and down $10 million on a sequential basis, primarily due to the planned maintenance of the Thai joint venture facilities.
Operating EBIT was $664 million, an increase of $9 million from the year-earlier period. Sequentially, operating EBIT increased by $188 million, driven by higher integrated polyethylene margins, the impact of the planned turnaround activity in Q3 and higher licensing revenue. The Packaging and Specialty Plastics business reported a net sales fall on an annualised basis as higher demand for industrial and consumer packaging in all regions was more than offset by lower polyethylene prices. Sequentially, net sales increased slightly due to higher polyethylene prices and licensing revenue, which were partially cancelled out by reduced polyethylene supply.
Ford engineers in Cologne launched an innovative research project to explore how food waste could be re-purposed to create auto part prototypes. They found the parts to be durable and believe the research like this could enable lighter-weight parts, which will reduce the amount of plastic used in vehicle parts, the carbon footprint of auto parts and bring the company closer to its goal of using more recycled and renewable content in its vehicles.
The trial was conducted as a part of the COMPOlive project designed to demonstrate the impact of using materials made from recycled and renewable materials in auto parts. For the trial, the waste materials were sourced from olive groves in Andalusia, Spain, the region with the highest production of olive oil in the world. The prototype parts consisted of 40% olive tree fibers and 60% recycled polypropylene plastic heated and injection moulded into the shape of a selected part.
Orbia Advance Corporation released the unaudited Q3 2023 results on 25 October. Orbia’s performance in the period in question reflected weakening market environment in construction, infrastructure and capital investments primarily due to an increasing impact of high interest rates around the globe and lower industrial and construction activity in China. These factors contributed to a more challenging environment for many of Orbia’s businesses in the quarter, which led to lower EBITDA compared with the same quarter last year. Nevertheless, the company continued to generate strong operating cash flow and maintained a solid balance sheet in the third quarter.
The revenues of Orbia polymer solutions business (Vestolit and Alphagary brands) dropped 19% year on year to $677 million in Q3 2023. EBITDA of $86 million plummeted by 26% and EBITDA margin by 122 basis points to 12.7%. The decrease in revenues was primarily triggered by weaker market conditions and lower PVC and caustic soda prices. This was partly offset by an increase in general resins volumes, particularly in Latin America. The reduced prices resulted from weaker construction markets tied to higher interest rates as well as the global impact of weakness in China. EBITDA was lower primarily due to lower selling prices, while the business continued to manage its costs and operations.
The revenues of Orbia’s building and infrastructure business (Wavin brand) slipped at an annualised rate of 1% to $694 million. EBITDA of $79 million increased by 13% and EBITDA margin by about 143 basis points to 11.4%. The revenues declined slightly owing to the impact of high interest rates that resulted in lower demand in the construction and the infrastructure sectors, particularly in Europe and North America. This was partly offset by a volume improvement in the Latin American and Asian markets. Increased EBITDA stemmed from lower cost of raw materials, cost optimisation and the contribution from recent acquisitions such as Bow Plumbing Group.
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