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Western Firms Back On Top

by Melody M. Bomgardner
July 7, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 27

Several U.S. and European chemical firms have displaced companies in emerging markets as the best generators of shareholder returns, according to an analysis by Boston Consulting Group. BCG examined 106 chemical companies with a market valuation of $2 billion or more. Leading up to 2008, firms in emerging markets had the highest returns, and agrochemical and fertilizer companies beat out those in other chemical sectors. But in the five years up to 2012, European and North American firms scored much higher. BCG attributes the slowdown of emerging-market firms to a dependence on selling in regional markets, versus global ones, and to their focus on basic chemicals and plastics. In Europe, shareholder return was boosted by the region’s abundance of firms with strong, multi-specialty product portfolios. Still, some emerging-market companies had shareholder returns of more than 30% over five years; a top 10 list generated by the analysis ranked Mexichem in first place and Chile’s SQM in sixth. Westlake Chemical, Sherwin-Williams, Eastman Chemical, and W.R. Grace, all of the U.S., made the list, along with the U.K.’s Croda and Victrex, Poland’s Synthos, and South Korea’s LG Chem.


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