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Top 50 Chemical Producers

Big gains gave petrochemical firms a strong showing in the 2005 survey of U.S. companies

May 16, 2005 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 83, Issue 20

Dow once again tops the U.S. listing. Shown here is Dow's Midland, Mich., site.
Dow once again tops the U.S. listing. Shown here is Dow's Midland, Mich., site.

C &EN's 2005 survey of U.S. chemical producers shows an industry enjoying the best of times. Sales and operating profits have risen dramatically for most companies as strong demand for chemical products--particularly petrochemicals--has provided chemical makers the leverage needed to raise prices.

The Top 50 U.S. chemical companies had total sales of $253.9 billion in this year's survey, which is based on 2004 financial results. The total marks a 23% increase over the $206.4 billion tabulated in C&EN's 2004 survey.

Such an increase may seem hard to believe. However, revenues jumped significantly at many key companies near the top of the list. In fact, out of the top 20 companies, all but DuPont and Mosaic posted double-digit sales growth.

Sales at Dow Chemical, which heads the ranking for the fourth straight year, grew by 23%, topping $40 billion. Number two DuPont wasn't as fortunate: Its sales held steady at $30.1 billion.

ExxonMobil Chemical's sales jumped by 38%, reaching $27.8 billion and solidifying the company's position at third place in the ranking. Huntsman Corp.'s sales climbed a whopping 64% to $11.4 billion, lifting it to fourth in this year's ranking, an improvement from sixth in the previous survey.

Equistar Chemicals jumped from number eight to number five because of a 42% increase in sales to $9.3 billion. This will be Equistar's last year in the ranking. On Dec. 1, 2004, Lyondell purchased Millennium Chemicals and thus the stake in the Equistar joint venture that it didn't already own. The combined sales would have been about $17 billion, enough to give Lyondell a comfortable fourth place on the list. However, because the transaction was completed late in the year, results for Equistar and Millennium are included only in Lyondell's December results.

But Lyondell will have a full year of consolidated earnings from all three companies under its belt in 2005, so it should rise to the top five in C&EN's 2006 survey, barring significant acquisitions by other major companies.

At another petrochemical company, Chevron Phillips Chemical, sales increased by 34%, hitting $9.2 billion. Despite the gains, the company slipped from fifth in the 2004 survey to sixth this year.

General Electric likewise slipped, from fourth to seventh. Its results have been restated to reflect a major restructuring of how it reports its chemical unit, however. GE's chemical sales increased by 17% to reach $8.3 billion.

PPG Industries' sales increased by 11%, but it dropped one position to eighth in this year's ranking. Rounding out the top 10 are industrial gas makers Air Products & Chemicals at nine and Praxair at 10, both with gains of about 17% that propelled their sales to $7.1 billion and $6.6 billion, respectively.

IN ALL, 48 of the 50 companies posted increased sales. Moreover, one of the remaining companies, Mosaic, doesn't have sales comparable with last year's survey. The company was formed in October 2004 through the merger of IMC Global--ranked 20 on last year's list--with Cargill's fertilizer business. Because Mosaic's fiscal year ends May 31, versus the calendar year that IMC used, C&EN was unable to compare results. The merged company is roughly double IMC's size.

The survey also reflects a sharp rise in profits for U.S. chemical makers. Of the 45 companies that disclosed profits comparable with previous-year results, 36 reported gains. Aggregate profits for the group rose from $11.0 billion to $18.3 billion--an increase of 66%.

In addition to Mosaic, several new entries appear on the 2005 Top 50 list. Celanese, which moved its headquarters from Frankfurt, Germany, to Dallas as it went public, enters the list at number 14 with just over $5 billion in sales.

Rockwood Specialties, which has grown through acquisitions of Laporte, Dynamit Nobel, and other chemical businesses, debuts at 36 in the survey.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. rejoins the list after being dropped last year because it was in the process of restating its results and didn't have numbers ready in time. Sterling Chemicals, which sometimes makes the list near the bottom, is included in this year's survey at the number 50 slot.

NL Industries and Ethyl Corp. are listed in the ranking under the names Kronos Worldwide and Newmarket Corp., respectively.

Several companies, in addition to IMC, are missing from the survey this year. Ferro, number 30 in last year's survey, cannot be included because, like Goodyear a year before, it is restating annual results. CF Industries, 38th a year ago, is also late with results.

Lubrizol's 2004 purchase of Noveon, ranked 41st in last year's survey, took Noveon off the list and helped lift Lubrizol's sales by more than 50%. Lubrizol climbed only two spaces, to 20th, in this year's survey, although it will likely move up a bit more next year with a full year of Noveon's revenues.

Finally, Sigma-Aldrich, which posted some $775 million in sales from chemical manufacturing in 2004, missed making the survey this year because its sales were too low.

C&EN's ranking of U.S. sales at the Top 25 foreign-owned companies has undergone a few important changes. Notably, BASF, with $10.2 billion in U.S. sales, has taken the lead from Bayer.

Bayer's slide in the rankings occurred largely because the firm's results have been split between two separate entries to reflect its spin-off of the industrial chemical company Lanxess. Bayer finishes fourth with $4.5 billion in U.S. sales, while Lanxess debuts at the 15th spot in the foreign ranking, with $1.7 billion in U.S. sales.

Even though Atofina launched a similar spin-off--the performance chemicals maker Arkema--its ranking has not slipped. In fact, Atofina is third in this year's foreign ranking, an improvement over the fourth place it held last year. Arkema makes its debut on the list at number 18.

Shell Chemicals, usually third in the foreign ranking, has climbed to second this year after its sales improved by 41%, to $6.2 billion.

Rounding out the top five foreign companies, ICI again finishes fifth, despite a 7.2% decrease in sales that gave it $3.2 billion in U.S. revenues for the year.

Missing from the foreign ranking this year is Celanese, which is now on the U.S. list, and UCB, which sold its surface specialties unit to Cytec Industries.

Big changes expected for next year include a full year of earnings for Equistar and Millennium under the Lyondell umbrella. Hexion Specialty Chemicals--to be made up largely from number 34 Borden Chemical and number 47 Resolution Performance Products--will debut next year. With more than $4 billion in a nnual sales, Hexion looks certain to be one of the 20 largest U.S. chemical companies. And Basell, the polypropylene joint venture between Shell and BASF, is being purchased by a consortium led by Access Industries and the Chatterjee Group. Chemtura will be Crompton Corp.'s new name after it completes its merger with Great Lakes Chemical. This may lead to publicly reported earnings by the time C&EN runs the next edition of the Top 50 list.

Note: Top 50 U.S. Chemical Producers Report is available in Adobe PDF format.


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