The Urethane Blog

Olin Registers a Loss

Olin swings to loss on weak demand, falling prices

February 06/2020

MOSCOW (MRC) — Olin (Clayton, Missouri) reports a fourth-quarter net loss of USD77 million, swinging from a profit of USD53 million in the year-ago period on weak demand and falling prices, according to Chemweek.

Sales totaled USD1.387 billion, down 15% year over year (YOY) from USD1.635 billion. Earnings per share came to a 49 cent loss, missing the average analyst estimate of an 11 cent loss as compiled by Refinitiv (New York).

Olin’s chairman, president, and CEO John E. Fischer says 2019 as a whole was difficult for the company. The chlor-alkali products and vinyls business reported weaker demand from urethane, agricultural, refrigerant, alumina, and pulp and paper customers, while the epoxy business saw weaker demand from automotive, electrical laminate, and industrial coatings customers. Olin’s caustic soda pricing during 2019 declined about 24% from 2018, while ethylene dichloride pricing declined about 30% and hydrochloric acid pricing about 40%. Epoxy resin prices dropped roughly 20% globally.

“Olin continues to face a challenging pricing environment as we enter 2020,” says Fischer. “As an example, Olin’s caustic soda and ethylene dichloride pricing in January 2020 is expected to be approximately 15% lower than the average 2019 price. We expect the cost containment and productivity initiatives from 2019, coupled with ongoing efforts in 2020, to provide a partial offset to this challenging product pricing environment.”

Sales in the chlor-alkali products and vinyls segment totaled USD762 million, down 22% YOY from USD981 million. Earnings came to USD33 million, down 77% from USD146 million. Olin cites lower caustic soda and ethylene dichloride pricing for most of the decline.

Sales in the epoxy segment totaled USD470 million, down 8% YOY from USD509 million. Segment earnings came to US

D15 million, down 21% from USD19 million. Lower product prices were only partially offset by higher resin volumes and lower feedstock benzene and propylene costs.

Sales in the Winchester ammunition segment totaled USD155 million, up 6% YOY from USD146 million, and earnings came to USD7 million, up 63% from USD4.3 million.

As MRC informed before, Olin Corporation announced in December 2019 that it plans to permanently shut down a chlor alkali plant with a capacity of 230,000 tons and its Vinylidene Chloride (VDC) production facility, both in Freeport, Texas. These closures are expected to be completed before the end of 2020.

According to MRC’s ScanPlast report, Russia’s consumption of caustic soda increased to 1,071,500 tonnes in 2019, up by 10% year on year (975,600 tonnes). Imports of caustic soda into Russia were 32,300 tonnes in 2019, up by  61% year on year (20,000 tonnes). Exports of caustic soda from Russia decreased to 245,400 tonnes in 2019, down by 7% year on year (263,600 tonnes). Production of caustic soda in the country totalled 1,289,400 tonnes in 2019, up by 1% year on year (1,278,900 tonnes).

Olin Corporation is a leading vertically-integrated global manufacturer and distributor of chemical products and a leading US manufacturer of ammunition.  The chemical products produced include chlorine and caustic soda, vinyls, epoxies, chlorinated organics, bleach and hydrochloric acid.  Winchester’s principal manufacturing facilities produce and distribute sporting ammunition, law enforcement ammunition, reloading components, small caliber military ammunition and components, and industrial cartridges.