BASF SE reported third-quarter profit that slightly beat estimates after its $8.9 billion (8 billion-euro) purchase of agrochemical and seed assets from Bayer AG helped offset an economic slowdown stoked by the U.S.-China trade war.
Adjusted earnings before interest and taxes fell 24% to 1.1 billion euros, the Ludwigshafen, Germany-based chemical maker said. Analysts had predicted 1.06 billion euros, according to a Bloomberg survey.
Agriculture was the highlight, as that business reported sales growth of 26% on the back of higher volumes in South America, Africa and the Middle East. The acquisition of the Bayer operations helped as well.
BASF is battling an array of economic challenges. The company said Thursday, Oct. 24, that the global industrial economy continued to cool in the third quarter, with the trade war and Brexit uncertainty in particular affecting the U.S. and Europe's export-focused countries. After earlier cuts, Chief Executive Officer Martin Brudermueller stuck with current full-year targets.
BASF's diverse portfolio of chemicals -- spanning petrochemicals and pesticides to cosmetic ingredients and plastics -- means the company is particularly exposed to the global industrial economy, which is also suffering from a slowdown in China and the decline of the auto industry.
The CEO is shaking up the chemical maker by trimming management and jobs, selling peripheral businesses and reallocating about 20,000 workers to customer-facing roles to keep pace with volatile market trends.
BASF expects its efficiency drive to deliver a 500 million-euro earnings boost this year. It predicted the program will deliver a 1 billion euro to 1.3 billion euro uplift in 2020.
This is article was written by Andrew Noël, a reporter for Bloomberg.