May 2009



Spanish scientists have reported that the air in Madrid and Barcelona is laced with recreational drugs.

The drug that the team found in the highest quantity is cocaine, with smaller amounts of amphetamines, opiates, cannabinoids (found in cannabis) and lysergic acid (a relative of LSD) also being detected in the air.

Using their fancy pressurised liquid extraction sampling technique, and subsequent liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry, the scientists also found higher levels at the weekend (not a big surprise there then!).

If you are thinking that this finding might explain why the Spanish are such a contented nation……….think again! Apparently the levels that were found are very low; the lead researcher, Miren Lopez de Alda, said that ‘not even if we lived for a thousand years would be consume the equivalent of a dose of cocaine by breathing this in’.

Another thing that surprised me about all this is that these results are not unexpected. Earlier studies have uncovered similar findings in Rome and Taranto, in Italy, and Los Angeles in the US.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

In this week’s business round-up we cover Pfizer’s restructuring charges, GSK’s moves into Africa and Celanese’s blue print for growth.

PHARMACEUTICALS

Pfizer to pay $6 billion in restructuring charges

According to Pfizer’s latest 10-Q SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) filing, the company expects to have to pay $6 billion (£3.95 billion) to finance the cost-cutting programmes associated with its purchase of Wyeth and the downsizing measures it announced in January. The money will be spent paying off some 17,000 employees and shutting down or selling off five manufacturing plants. Digging a little deeper into the numbers makes painful reading as Pfizer plans to have 53 per cent fewer manufacturing employees in 2010 than it did in 2003 as it looks to outsource as much as 30 per cent of its manufacturing capabilities. The plans are expected to deliver savings of around $3 billion a year.

Meanwhile, those Pfizer employees lucky enough to still have jobs proposed that the company set up the ‘Maintain’ programme to enable those Americans that have lost their jobs this year and were taking drugs made by Pfizer for at least three months can still get access to the drugs.

‘The current economic environment has added considerable new stress to the daily life of millions of hard-working Americans, and our colleagues are responding to help their neighbours in the communities where they reside,” said Jeffrey Kindler, Pfizer’s chief executive. ‘ With the launch of this initiative, which I am proud to say was proposed by our colleagues, we are doing what we can to ensure that recent loss of employment does not preclude people from managing their health.’

GSK ventures deeper into Africa

africa-satellite-small

UK-based pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has bought a 16 per cent share of its South African partner, generics company Aspen Pharmacare, in a deal the firms are touting as a $418 million asset-swap. In return for the stake in the company, GSK will hand over the global rights to eight GSK drugs and a manufacturing plant in Germany. The drugs divested include Alkeran (excluding the US), Kemadrin, Lanvis, Leukeran, Myleran, Purinethol, Septrin and Trandate, which had combined 2008 sales of £56 million.

The two companies originally linked up in July last year, with GSK supplying generic versions of its drugs to the South African company.

Meanwhile, GSK has released results from a head-to-head clinical trial that showed that its cervical cancer vaccine, Cervarix, induces a more powerful immune response to the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) than US rival Merck’s Gardasil. The study showed that seven months after injection Cervarix had generated between two and six times the number of HPV antibodies produced by Gardasil. While GSK will be hoping the results will help it close the gap on Merck’s market-leading shot, Merck said the comparative data was not clinically relevant as there was no evidence that long term immune response made any difference to the long-term risk of developing cancer.

Tamiflu-tastic

Swiss drugmarker Roche has said that due to the swine flu outbreak it is donating an additional 5.65 million packs of its antiviral drug Tamiflu to the World Health Organization (WHO) and that it has been increasing its production of the drug – a move which could potentially turn Tamiflu back into a blockbuster.

Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) has said that the shelf life for the drug could be extended for up to two years beyond its current expiry date, in a move that could help to relieve short term pressure on the drug. The regulatory body also recommended that both Tamiflu and its competitor, GSK’s Relenza, could be used safely in young children.

However, Indian pharmaceutical firm Cipla has said its generic version of the drug, Antiflu, has been added to the WHO approved list of drugs to fight the pandemic.

Lundbeck soars to record quarterly sales

images

Danish drug manufacturer Lundbeck has seen its revenues for the first quarter soar 15 per cent to an all time high of DKr3.2 billion (£386 million) driven by sales of the firm’s antidepressant Cipralex increasing 16 per cent to DKr1.36 billion , and sales of its Alzheimer’s therapy increasing 17 per cent to DKr526 million. However, the increased sales volume did little to boost operating profit, which rose 2.4 per cent to DKr947 million as the firm increased by 37 per cent its R&D investment in its late stage pipeline.

Lundbeck’s purchase of US-based Ovation in March, in a deal worth up to £600 million, led the company to increase its sales predictions to DKr13.1-13.6 billion from DKr12-12.5 billion.

INDUSTRY

Celanese presents its blue print for growth

visuals_singapore2

After suffering from falling sales due to the recession, US based chemical manufacturer Celanese has presented its plans for growth at an investor conference. These include short-term cost savings, as well as realigning its manufacturing footprint with future demand. Part of these plans involve an expansion of its acetic acid unit in Nanjing, China, because of the growing demand for acetic acid in the country. The capacity of the current plant will be doubled to 1.2 million tonnes by the end of 2009.

‘Through portfolio optimisation, productivity, innovation and growth, Celanese continues to execute its strategy of becoming a leading, global hybrid chemical company with significant earnings power,’ said David Weidman, chief executive of Celanese. ‘We are taking actions that position Celanese for success today and in the future.’

Asahi Kasei exits fine chemicals

Japanese chemical manufacturer Asahi Kasei has said it will withdraw from the fine chemicals business and liquidate its Asahi Kasei N&P subsidiary based in Shiraoi in Hokkaido, Japan. The company established the subsidiary in 1975 to manufacture antibiotics for use as animal feed additives and it developed into a key manufacturer of fermentation products. Since 2005 it has focussed on the manufacture of functional food additive conenzyme Q10. However, the market became oversaturated and prices have fallen to such a level that the subsidiary has ‘been placed in a position of continuing unprofitability’.

The company is also closing its Construction Materials subsidiary and will close its manufacturing facility which is also based in Shiraoi. The move will see Asahi Kasei cease all operations in Shiraoi, however the 48 employees of the N&P subsidiary and the 36 employees working at the Construction Materials plant will be repositioned within the group.

Huntsman posts first-quarter loss

US chemical maker Huntsman saw revenues for the first quarter slip by 33 per cent to $1.69 billion due to lower volumes of sales and falling selling prices. This caused the company to slip to an operating loss of $159 million compared to an operating profit of $16 million during the same period in 2008.

However, its not all bad news, as a Texas court has cleared the way for the company to continue its multibillion dollar lawsuit against Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank, which stems from the failed takeover of Huntsman by Hexion. Hexion’s offer had led Huntsman to buy its way out of a previously agreed deal with Basell.

Huntsman claims against the Banks include: common law fraud in connection with the Basell agreement, tortious interference with Huntsman’s merger agreement with Hexion, negligent misrepresentation, and civil conspiracy.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

It’s a double week for the Chemistry in its element podcasts.

060855_al

060855_fr

First up University of Cambridge’s Peter Wothers goes hunting (with a microscope!) for the element that is named after France, and then Kira Weissman (from Saarlandes University in Germany) tells us why aeroplanes should not be referred to as ‘tin boxes’

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

We thought we’d follow up our press release and Tony Williams’ post a couple of days later, to add in a few more details and to respond to a couple of the questions that we’ve received. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Using biofuels to generate electricity to power battery-driven cars is more efficient and environmentally friendly than making ethanol fuel, according to a report last week in Science.

Elliot Campbell from the University of California in Merced, US, presented an analysis of how far a small SUV would go if it was powered directly by cellulosic ethanol fermented from biofuel crops or by a battery charged using electricity generated from the biofuel. The analysis also looked at the number of carbon-offset credits each process would generate.

teslaroadstersmall

He found that using bioelectricity produces on average 81 per cent more transport kilometres and more than twice as many emissions offsets than ethanol produced from the same amount of land. Combined with the possibility of using carbon-capture and storage (CCS) technology and at the bioelectricity power plants, it would appear that we should probably be looking more closely at improving the performance of battery powered electrical vehicles.

As long as I can have a Tesla Roadster like this one, I’m all for it!

Reference J.E. Campbell, D.B. Lobell and C.B. Field, Science, 2009 DOI:10.1126/science.1168885

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

The last image taken by Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (NASA)

The last image taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (NASA)

While hordes have flocked to the cinema to see Star Trek on the big screen, seven astronauts yesterday advanced on the final frontier for real, manning NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis as it pays a house call to the aging Hubble Space Telescope.

Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down woke the crew at 4.01am on Day 2 of the 11-day mission, a track chosen especially for pilot Greg Johnson as he wakes on his first morning in space.

(more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

This week the European Parliament voted in favour of ‘watering down’ its directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes – enabling researchers to continue most animal experiments. Last year, the EU Commission proposed a range of measures to improve the welfare of the 12 million vertebrate animals used in experiments each year – half of which are used in drug development experiments, a third in biological studies and the rest for cosmetics and disease diagnosis.

hamster-lab-testing-300

Some aspects of the original proposals may have forced animal research to be moved to locations where regulation of the experiments was less strict. The bill was drafted by Conservative MEP Neil Parish who believes ‘it is essential that we balance the need to reduce and eliminate animal testing with the need to ensure that high quality research for new medicines for human health continues.’

The amendments, which still need to gain backing from the EU member states, encourage the development of alternative methods of testing that do not involve animals.’This directive sets the framework to allow us create an environment where animal testing is made redundant yet it will not impede scientists’ work in tackling debilitating and terminal medical conditions,’ says Parish.

‘We all look forward to the day when we no longer need any animal testing. This new law is intended to make that day come far sooner.’

PHARMACEUTICALS

Pfizer licenses stem cell patents

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has licensed the WARF (Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation) human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) patents for the development of new drug therapies. According to Ruth McKernan, chief scientific officer of Pfizer Regenerative Medicine, ‘Pfizer’s stem cell R&D goal is three fold: to use human cells as tools in our drug discovery efforts, to improve the safety of new treatments and, most importantly, to move towards cell therapy.’

The move comes just 2 weeks after the pharma giant announced it was teaming up with University College London to gain a better understanding of how to develop stem cell-based therapies for ophthalmic conditions.

The WARF patents themselves have caused much debate since they were first filed in 1995 to protect the work of developmental biologist James Thomson. While the patents have withstood numerous disputes in the US, the European Patent Office (EPO) has consistently refused to grant the patents stating EU law prohibits the patenting of human stem cell cultures that involve the destruction of human embryos during preparation.

Allergan slumps as botox gets ‘black boxed’

Botox-maker Allergan has seen its operating profits slashed in half for the first quarter of 2009, falling to $82 million (£54 million) after sales fell 6.5 per cent to $1.01 billion while operating costs remained relatively flat.

The news that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved the application by Ipsen and Medicis to sell Allergan’s botulinum toxin (the active ingredient in botox) for to treat cervical dystonia and glabellar cell lines was marred by the agency’s request that Allergan adopt a ‘black box’ warning after infrequent reports of serious adverse events (SAE) that could be associated with the potential spread of the product from the site of the injection. The risk of SAE was found to be greatest in children treated for juvenile cerebral palsy but could also occur in adults treated for spasticy or cervical dystonia.

Creon gets green light

The pharmaceutical arm of Belgian chemicals conglomerate Solvay has received formal approval of its enzyme drug Creon (pancrelipase) to treat exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. The drug, which is made from pig glands, has been on the US market so long that it was never required to undergo FDA approval. In 2004 the agency declared that companies making enzyme products like Creon needed prove the safety of their drugs by April 2010. Creon is now the first, and only, such drug approved for use in the US.

Sanofi converts to biotech

The world’s fourth largest drugmaker, Sanofi-Aventis, has said it will spend €200 million (£179 million) to convert a French pharmaceutical factory to biotechnology – highlighting its desire to gain a strong footing in the arena.

The company has also received a license to produce its seasonal trivalent influenza vaccine, Fluzone, at a new facility in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania, US. The $150 million facility will be capable of producing 100 million doses of the vaccine each year – trebling the company’s current vaccine production capacity.

INDUSTRY

Nine more to join the dirty dozen?

lindane

Experts from around the world have gathered in Stockholm, Sweden, to discuss whether nine new chemicals should be added to the list of 12 persistent-organic-pollutants (POPS) banned toxic chemicals. The original ‘dirty dozen’ were listed for banning under an international pact known as the Stockholm Convention in 2001, because of their links to human nervous systems damage , causing cancer and disrupting the development of young children.

Among the nine new additions are alpha hexachlorocyclohexane, chlorodecone, hexabromobiphenyl, lindane, pentachlorobenzene perfluorooctance and a series of polybrominated diphenyl ethers.

Lanxess and Rhodia see sales slump

Weak underlying demand due to the recession has caused sales at Lanxess and Rhodia to slump.

Lanxess‘ sales fell 31 per cent to €1.0 billion during the first quarter of 2009, causing operating profits to slip to a €1 million loss compared to a profit of €145 million in the previous year.

‘The drop in demand of more than 35 per cent reached historic proportions. But by immediately launching our extensive ‘Challenge09’ package of global measures, we succeeded in achieving nearly one-third of the very high earnings level seen in the prior-year period,’ said Axel Heitmann, Lanxess’ chairman.

Rhodia also saw a severe contraction in sales, which fell 22.5 per cent to €920 million, causing the French firm to post an operating loss of €91 million.

‘As anticipated, we faced in the first quarter unprecedented low levels of demand. This, combined with the absorption of costly raw material inventories, resulted in a major adverse impact on profitability. However, we succeeded in generating Free Cash Flow thanks to the swift adjustment of our business management processes which proved very effective,’ said Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, Rhodia’s chief executive.

‘The negative impact from costly raw material inventories is now behind us. Looking ahead, we are perceiving signs of slight demand recovery in Asia and Latin America and we expect that customer destocking in Europe and North America will be completed by the end of the semester.’

BASF opens fuel cell component facility

BASF has opened its BASF Fuel Cell production facility in Somerset, New Jersey, US, which will make the heart of combined heat and power fuel cells. Inside the high-temperature Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA) units, hydrogen and air react to make water while generating electrical power and heat.

DuPont Roundup

DuPont has announced that it will make 2000 job cuts as part of the restructuring plans it announced in April. The plans are designed to increase its cost reduction plan from $730 million to $1 billion. ‘As a market-driven science company with strong growth opportunities, our objective is not simply to weather the recession and wait for recovery. Our goal is to emerge from this global recession stronger, faster and more agile than ever before,’ said DuPont’s chief executive Ellen Kullman

But the bad news didn’t stop there as Monsanto announced it was filing a lawsuit against DuPont, claiming it was unlawfully using to its Roundup Ready herbicide tolerant technologies in soybeans and corn.

‘As the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,’ said Hugh Grant, chief executive of Monsanto. ‘However, unlawfully taking technology is neither imitation nor flattery; it is unethical and wrong. A true technology company respects patents and its contractual agreements and delivers new products through its own innovation and honest collaboration. DuPont has failed on all counts.’

DuPont vice president James Borel has hit back at the claims, stating that ‘Monsanto is trying to deny farmers access to alternative technologies at a time when farmers are struggling with weeds that are increasingly resistant to current Monsanto products.’

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

ideas

Bill and Melinda Gates announced today the projects that will receive funding as part of their unconventional Grand Challenges initiative. Designed to support “unorthodox thinking”, this scheme will fund global health high-risk research in the hope of making ground-breaking life-changing discoveries. In the search for true innovation, many of the ideas appear to walk the fine line between madness and absolute originality. Areas of science such as polymer science, immunology and stem cell research will be supported, with projects that involve the development of a tomato that delivers antiviral drugs through to the synthesis of “sticky” nanoparticles that attach to TB-infected cells and slowly release drugs.

Initially, the projects will receive $100,000 with the chance of applying for up to $1 million if they were to succeed. And best of all? The application form is only two pages long and no additional data are required at this stage of the awarding process. How refreshing! Other awarding bodies and institutions should take note….

The Times, Tuesday May 5 2009

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

The latest podcast is now online – listen to Bibiana, James and Phillip discussing their favourite stories from the May issue with Chris, plus exclusive interviews with Harry McArdle and John Turner.

And don’t forget to enter our chemical conundrum – for a chance of winning a Chemistry World goody bag.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

This week’s news reports have been dominated by swine flu ‘fever’ – especially now the virus has spread from Mexico to the US, Europe and Asia.  Fortunately, the new influenza A (H1N1) strain is currently responsive to the antivirals made by Roche (Tamiflu) and GSK (Relenza). Unsurprisingly, the news has seen the share prices of Roche and GSK rise. The news will come as a particular boost to Roche which had seen sales of Tamiflu fall this year due to many of the seasonal flu strains having become resistant to it.

pigs-300

Meanwhile, scientists around the world are racing to create a vaccine against the strain, which is made up of pieces of human, swine, and avian viruses from North America, Europe, and Asia – according to researchers from Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg and at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.

PHARMACEUTICAL

Novartis prepares for pandemic

Swiss drugmaker Novartis has said it will use the results from a Phase II trial of its pre-pandemic avian flu vaccine containing its MF59 adjuvant to help develop a vaccine against the swine flu virus. The study showed that MF59 boosted the effectiveness of Novartis’ Aflunov avian-flu vaccine to provide a broad cross-reactive immune response covering all known H5N1 antigenic variants.

‘Cross-reactivity is an important element for a pre-pandemic vaccine, given that variations are a common feature of emerging influenza strains,’ said Andrin Oswald, chief executive of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics. ‘We will use these new insights, as well as our strong leadership position in cell based flu manufacturing, as part of our efforts to develop a vaccine against the current swine flu outbreak.’

AstraZeneca profits from statin sales growth

UK-based drug giant AstraZeneca (AZ) has seen its first quarter operating profits grow 40 per cent to $3.1 billion (£2.1 billion) despite sales staying flat at $7.7 billion due to increases in sales being offset by exchange rate fluctuations. According to the firm, sales grew 7 per cent at constant exchange rates (CER).

Sales of its anticholesterol drug Crestor (rosuvastatin) increased 35 per cent at CER to $969 million and is still the only branded statin gaining market share – this time the growth is being driven by the very positive results gained from the JUPITER clinical trials.

AZ’s MedImmune subsidiary has said it is working closely with the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to explore the production of live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) candidates that may be used to help protect against swine flu.

Mixed fortunes for Pfizer and Wyeth

The world’s largest pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, has revealed that sales for the first quarter of 2009 slipped 8 per cent to $10.9 billion, but operating profits increased 7 per cent to $3.8 billion.

‘During the quarter, we continued our ongoing efforts to reshape our operating model, made substantial progress in planning for the Wyeth integration, and faced a challenging and dynamic economic and competitive environment. Yet, we remained focused on meeting our commitments – generating revenues consistent with our expectations and continuing to streamline our cost structure,’ said Jeffery Kindler, Pfizer’s chief executive.

Meanwhile Wyeth saw its sales falls 6 per cent to $5.4 billion during the first quarter – however the company ascribed the fall to the ‘unfavourable impact of foreign exchange’ which hid underlying revenue growth of 2 per cent.

Despite operating income falling 4 per cent to $1.6 billion, the company was bullish about the results, with Bernard Poussot, Wyeth’s chief executive saying: ‘Wyeth delivered a solid first quarter led by double-digit revenue growth in constant dollars from core product franchises.’

Sanofi dumps 14 candidates in pipeline shakedown

SanofiAventis has decided to axe 14 drugs from its pipeline as it looks to overhaul its research and development programme and sharpen its focus on those projects it believes will successfully reach market and help offset the loss of sales due to patent expiry. The move leaves the pharma giant with 51 projects still in clinical development – 21 of which are either in Phase III trials or have been submitted for regulatory approval.

The pipeline review was announced as part of its first quarter financial results release, which saw the company report that sales had increased 2.5 per cent to €7.1 billion (£6.3 billion) and operating profits increased 14.9 per cent to €2.8. billion.

INDUSTRY

Merck KGaA’s profit plunges

00240low_rd2004bremer

German chemical and pharmaceutical company Merck KGaA has seen its first quarter operating profits slump 64 per cent to €129.3 million despite sales remaining flat at €1.8 billion. The company blamed the results on the drop in demand for liquid crystals used in flat-panel televisions – a market it dominates with a 70 per cent share. Operating profits from the liquid crystal division plummeted 89 per cent to just €13 million.

Despite its pharmaceuticals division seeing revenues increase 9.7 per cent to €1.4 billion during the quarter, the division’s operating profits slipped by 9.3 per cent to €184 million as a higher gross margin failed to compensate for higher expenses.

‘This year will be a challenge for Merck, but I am happy to say that our Pharmaceuticals business remains strong. Regarding liquid crystals, we are convinced we reached the bottom in the first quarter,’ said Karl-Ludwig Kley, Merck’s chairman.

AkzoNobel sees profit cut in two

Dutch chemical company AkzoNobel has seen its revenues for the first quarter of the year fall 13 per cent to €3.2 billion and its operating profits fall 50 per cent to €142 million. However, the company believes the recession is starting to ease.

‘Our first quarter results across all areas of our business reflect the depth of the global economic slowdown,’ said Hans Wijers, AkzoNobel’s chief executive.

remarkable_forestpreview

‘We still have limited forward visibility, but there were some early indications in March that conditions in a number of our markets may be stabilising. I believe that because of our strong fundamentals and the actions we have already taken, and continue to take, AkzoNobel is well placed to weather the current economic storm.’

The company has also just reinforced the position of its Casco adhesives business in Eastern Europe by buying Kronochem’s wood adhesives business which has plants and offices in the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia – an area regarded as a primary growth region of the future.

BASF to slash 2000 jobs as recession continues to bite

German chemical giant BASF has decided to take ‘swift and decisive action’ in the face of the continuing decline in demand for chemical products and will cut 2000 jobs by the end of the year. The company had, until now, resisted the urge to follow the likes of Dow and DuPont in slashing jobs at the turn of the year, choosing instead to rely on asking employees to take holiday.

The fall in demand has led to a 23 per cent drop in the company’s sales, which fell to €12.2 billion for the quarter and caused operating profits to fall by 58 per cent to €985 million.

Bayer falls as MaterialScience biz falters

German chemical and pharmaceutical giant Bayer has reported a mixed set of results with its HealthCare and CropScience divisions both seeing increased sales. However, its MaterialScience division saw sales and profits slump, causing the group’s total sales to fall 7.5 per cent to €7.89 billion and its operating profits to fall 27.6 per cent to €0.97 billion.

Bayer’s HealthCare division saw sales grow 3 per cent to €3.8 billion and operating profits rise 19.9 per cent to €675 million. Its CropScience division saw similar gains, with sales increasing 7.2 per cent to €2.12 billion and operating profits growing 16.2 per cent to €609 million. However, the 34.9 per cent drop in sales from its MaterialScience division, which fell to  €1.6 billion, led to an operating loss of €281 million for the division.

Dow sees ‘bright spots’

US chemical giant Dow has seen sales fall nearly 40 per cent to $9.08 billion and operating profits fall over 98 per cent to $17 million. Despite the gloomy outlook, Andrew Liveris, Dow’s chief executive, was upbeat, saying: ‘These results reflect the demand destruction that continued into the first quarter, balanced by strong results from Dow AgroSciences. Inventory de-stocking appears to be over, so at least one major component of demand destruction is behind us. We are encouraged by the operating rate improvement that we have seen each month from December to April.’

‘While we expect the recessionary environment to continue through the end of this year, we have seen a few bright spots and some moderation in the pace of decline in the industry .’

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

« Previous Page