By Aziz El Yaakoubi and Hadeel Al Sayegh
RIYADH/DUBAI (Reuters) -Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), one of the world’s biggest petrochemical companies, said on Tuesday its fourth-quarter net profit slumped 94% on lower average sales prices.
The company posted a net income of 290 million riyals ($77.28 million) in the three-month period ended Dec. 31, down from 4.97 billion a year earlier.
SABIC’s shares fell 4% to 88 riyals in early trade in Riyadh following the results.
Prices across the company’s main petrochemicals segments, chemicals, polyethylene and performance polymers were lower in the fourth quarter, SABIC said, adding that margins were expected to remain under pressure in the first half of 2023 amid slow demand.
Chemicals giant Dow Inc last month forecast current-quarter revenue below estimates, while Abu Dhabi’s Borouge, a polyefins producer, earlier this month announced a $400 million cost savings drive to navigate inflation and supply chain disruptions.
Demand from China, which ended its strict pandemic-related controls in early December, could return in the second quarter or second half of 2023, SABIC’s acting Chief Executive Abdulrahman Al-Fageeh said.
There had been little rise in demand from China since its reopening and did not match the lift seen in 2021, Al-Fageeh added. “Until today, we cannot see the higher demand which was expected to take place.”
Net income attributable to shareholders for the year 2022 was 16.53 billion riyals, down 28% from the previous year.
SABIC’s earnings are closely related to oil prices and global economic growth as its products – plastics, fertilisers and metals – are used extensively in construction, agriculture and industry and in making consumer goods.
($1 = 3.7527 riyals)
(Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Edmund Blair and Shounak Dasgupta)