Frankfurt: BASF AG, the world’s largest chemical company by sales, said Thursday it recorded a net loss for the fourth quarter as its business was hit significantly by the worldwide economic crisis.
Ludwigshafen-based BASF reported a net loss for the October-December period of €313 million ($400 million), compared with a profit of €793 million a year earlier.
Sales for the quarter were 2.7% lower, declining to €14.3 billion from €14.7 billion.
For all of 2008, BASF, whose products includes paints, glues, plastics and fertilizers, said it recorded a 28% decline in net profit to €2.9 billion. In 2007, it earned €4 billion.
“Following a strong start, BASF Group’s business worsened steadily in the further course of 2008,” the company said in a statement. “Toward the end of the year ... the business environment was significantly impacted by the worldwide economic crisis.
In 2009, “the continuing global recession will cause the chemical market to shrink,” it added. “Any forecast is currently subject to great uncertainty.”
BASF said its chemicals division saw a 10% increase in 2008 full-year sales, which rose to €10.3 billion from €9.4 billion. But operating profit for the division fell nearly 28% to €1.4 billion from €2 billion.
The plastics division saw a 3% decline in sales, which dropped to €9.7 billion. Its operating profit fell nearly 55%, to €530 million from €1.2 billion.
BASF’s agricultural segment, which makes crop protection products, saw its sales increase 9% to €3.4 billion and operating profit in agriculture rose 37% to €705 million from €516 million.
BASF also explores and drills for oil and natural gas and the company said that segment saw sales increase 37% in 2008, to €14.4 billion from €11 billion.Operating profit for oil and gas also rose 27%, to €3.8 billion from €3 billion in 2007.