RIYADH, (AFP) — Saudi petrochemicals giant Sabic said Sunday it doubled earnings in the third quarter against the previous period as the global economy bottomed out and its product prices surged on higher oil prices.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the Gulf’s largest listed company and one of the world’s leading petrochemical producers, reported a 3.6 billion riyal (960 million dollars) net profit for the July-September period, exactly double the previous quarter.
Profits were 50 percent down on the year-earlier quarter, when the company enjoyed much higher oil prices and the financial crisis was just beginning to hit Sabic’s markets, chief executive Mohammed al-Mady said at a media conference in Riyadh.
Sales were up 13.7 percent to 27 billion riyals (7.2 billion dollars) from the second quarter, but were 39.2 percent down from the year-earlier figure.
Sales volume meanwhile was up three percent from a year ago, the company said.
Mady said the jump in profits from the second quarter was evidence of both higher prices and the recovery in the company’s markets, especially in Asia, for a wide range of plastics and other petrochemical products.
“In spite of repercussions arising from the global economic crisis, Sabic has maintained the same operational levels,” Mady said.
In the first quarter of 2009, Sabic posted a 974 million million riyal (260 million dollars) loss as petrochemical prices plunged, its first quarterly loss since 2001.
The third-quarter earnings were above forecasts by analysts, which had ranged between two and three billion riyals.
Mady was cautious about the near future, with some economists predicting another global slowdown as the effects of industrial restocking and government stimulus actions wear off.
“It remains to be seen when the stimulus effect runs out if the economy will remain at the same speed or slow down,” he said.