German chemical firm Lanxess reported net income of 171mn euros (US$231mn) in 2008, an increase of 53% compared to 112mn euros in 2007 despite difficult markets and a sharp drop in business in the fourth quarter, CEO Dr Axel Claus Heitmann said during the company's annual press conference 2009.
For the fourth quarter the company reported a net loss of 41mn euros (US$55.3mn) versus a profit of 5mn euros in the prior-year period.
Full year sales and Ebitda held steady at 6.58bn euros and 721mn euros respectively.
Sales in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries increased 41% to 1.06bn euros last year, accounting for some 16% of Lanxess' global business.
"Our performance was particularly gratifying in Brazil, where we acquired Petroflex, the most important Latin American producer of synthetic rubber," Heitmann said.
"Petroflex made a pleasing contribution to earnings in 2008," Heitmann added without reporting hard figures.
The success of the Petroflex acquisition provides an ideal addition to the synthetics rubber business further strengthening Lanxess' position in one of the world's most important growth regions, the executive said.
As a result of the acquisition Lanxess is consolidating its facilities to optimize world production. E-SBR activities will be consolidated in Brazil, which will result in efficiency and technology improvements, Heitmann added.
Lanxess expects the first quarter of 2009 to be equally difficult as the final quarter last year.
"There is clearly no way the first quarter of '09 can turn out any better operationally than the fourth quarter of 2008," Heitmann said.
Lanxess is implementing a variety of cost cutting measures in anticipation of continued economic difficulties. The company aims to save 250mn euros by scaling back production and introducing shorter working hours, as well as wage freezes.
On top of that Lanxess plans to save 100mn euros from postponing scheduled investment projects.
The company did not issue guidance for 2009.