BASF gave investors a preview of its third-quarter sales and earnings, which, while down compared with last year, beat analysts’ expectations. The German giant had sales of $15.4 billion compared with $19.2 billion in the year-ago quarter and income from operations of $1.7 billion, down slightly from last year. The decreases were due mainly to BASF’s sale of its natural gas trading business in September 2015. Compared to the prior-year quarter, BASF says earnings from its performance products, functional materials, and agriculture businesses were considerably higher. BASF will release its full report on Oct. 27.