Ludwigshafen, Germany – BASF generated group-wide sales of EUR 16.75bn in the first quarter 2020 up 7.42% on the same period last year.
EBITDA across the business fell 12.3% to EUR 2.43bn in the quarter and the company has withdrawn its financial guidance for 2020.
Martin Brudermüller, BASF CEO said: 'BASF's diversified portfolio offers advantages, especially in difficult times. Not all of our industries are equally affected by the pandemic. They show different degrees of resilience. For example, pharma, detergents and cleaners and food… are experiencing additional demand.'
In the company's Materials business, sales fell 1.9% between the first quarter 2019 and the first quarter of 2020. They were EUR 2.87bn in the first quarter 2020. This compares with EUR 2.93bn in the equivalent period in 2019.
At the same time, EBITDA in the division fell 15.8%. It reached EUR 415m in the first quarter of 2020. This compares with EUR 493m in the equivalent period in 2019.
BASF blamed lower margins year-on-year in the ethylene and propylene value chain as well as for isocyanates and polyamide precursors. Earnings in these segments were lower and fixed costs were higher than in Q1 2019.
In the Materials segment, considerable earnings growth in Performance Materials division did not compensate for the decline in Monomers. The company has withdrawn its earnings guidance issued on 28 February.
BASF said: 'It is currently impossible to reliably estimate both the length and the further spread of the coronavirus pandemic.'
Shutdown's in the automotive and other business areas will hit the company, BASF said. It added that there will be considerable falls in sales for the second quarter. But the company expects a slow recovery for the third and fourth quarters.
The situation is 'extremely uncertain and not predictable,' BASF concluded.