Top 50 U.S. chemical producers of 2016 | May 8, 2017 Issue - Vol. 95 Issue 19 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 95 Issue 19 | pp. 20-23
Issue Date: May 8, 2017

Top 50 U.S. chemical producers of 2016

With growth hard to come by, chemical producers look to acquisitions
Department: Business
Keywords: finance, Top 50, petrochemicals, Dow, BASF, DuPont, Chemours, Mergers & Acquisitions
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Click here for an interactive look at the US Top 50 that lets you sort by company and year, with complete data going back to 2004. Be sure to also check out our Global Top 50 information presented in the same interactive format.
top50US2017click
 
Click here for an interactive look at the US Top 50 that lets you sort by company and year, with complete data going back to 2004. Be sure to also check out our Global Top 50 information presented in the same interactive format.

The struggle chemical makers face as they attempt to grow revenues is clearly evident from C&EN’s ranking of the Top 50 U.S. chemical producers.

The 50 firms combined for $259.9 billion in sales in 2016, the year that forms the basis of the survey, a 5.6% decline from the amount the same firms posted the year before.

And it wasn’t as if sharp sales drops at a few firms weighed down the entire group. The decline was dispersed evenly throughout the industry. Of the 50 firms, only nine saw sales increase, and for a few of those—including Olin, Kraton, and Westlake Chemical—the improvement was the result of large acquisitions.

Part of the explanation for the decline can be found in oil prices, which dipped to nearly $30 per barrel early last year, their lowest levels since 2003. Although oil prices rebounded to more than $50 per barrel by the end of the year, chemical prices didn’t have time to catch up.

Look back at C&EN’s annual analysis of the Top 50 U.S. chemical companies:

Complete data, from 2004-present

Want more of C&EN’s chemical company rankings? Check out our authoritative feature on the world’s Top 50 chemical firms

Moreover, even though consumer spending and employment are healthy, the U.S. economy has been posting anemic growth. Gross domestic product grew by only 1.6% last year. According to the American Chemistry Council, a trade association, the U.S. chemical industry also posted only a 1.6% increase in volumes last year.

Income also declined. The 44 firms among the 50 that report profits combined for $33.6 billion in operating income, a decrease of 9.6% versus the year-ago period.

Although profits declined, they were still historically high for the chemical industry. Moreover, only one firm, Momentive Performance Materials, posted a deficit.

Wall Street expects better performance from the industry in the future. Market capitalization, which is determined mainly by stock price, of the Top 50’s 31 publicly traded firms increased 12.5% to $367.6 billion. The industry outpaced the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index, which climbed 9.5%.

The American Chemistry Council also expects better times for the industry in 2017. It forecasts 3.6% volume growth.

Dow heads the ranking again

Once again, Dow Chemical sits atop the ranking with $48.2 billion in sales for 2016. It posted a 1.3% decline in revenues for the year, but it still widened its lead over number two ExxonMobil, which experienced a 7.4% drop in chemical sales to $26.1 billion.

A year ago, C&EN predicted that Dow might disappear from the ranking this year owing to its pending merger with DuPont to form DowDuPont. The two firms expected to complete the deal in 2016. But the European Commission delayed it because of worries about the impact the merger—plus Bayer’s purchase of Monsanto and ChemChina’s acquisition of Syngenta—would have on European farmers.

The Dow-DuPont deal still hasn’t closed, but the companies have taken steps to ensure clearance later this year. DuPont inked an agreement to divest much of its crop protection business and related R&D to FMC. In return, DuPont will get $1.6 billion in cash and FMC’s health and nutrition business. To appease the EC, Dow is also selling its ethylene acrylic acid polymers business to South Korea’s SK.

Dow did complete one deal in 2016, absorbing its former joint venture Dow Corning, which was ranked 16 last year.

Dow is also tops in market cap

Dow’s market capitalization grew by a whopping 20.5% in 2016, helping it edge out the company it is merging with, DuPont, for the top spot in value. Ecolab held on to number three, and Praxair beat out industrial gas rival Air Products for the fourth slot.

But DuPont spin-off Chemours provided the biggest chemical stock story of 2016. Early last year, Chemours’s stock price was weighed down by meager results, debt from DuPont, and the liability from 3,500 personal injury suits stemming from perfluorooctanoic acid pollution at the former DuPont plant in Parkersburg, W.Va.

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DuPont researchers work on biobased butyl alcohol.
Credit: DuPont
A photo of scientists in a lab with lab coats and eyewear on. They have DuPont emblems on their lab coats.
 
DuPont researchers work on biobased butyl alcohol.
Credit: DuPont

Last June, Citron Research, a short seller betting that Chemours’s stock would plummet, even predicted that Chemours was heading to bankruptcy court within the next 18 months.

But a favorable court ruling and better business performance turned Chemours into a “buy” rather than a “sell.” Its shares increased from $5.36 at the end of 2015 to $22.09 by the close of 2016, a 315.5% increase in market capitalization.

Interestingly, another big stock gainer is Kronos Worldwide, which like Chemours makes the white pigment titanium dioxide. Huntsman Corp. is readying a spin-off of its own pigments business, Venator, later this year.

Corporate realignment marked 2016

Thanks to deal making and corporate restructuring, the chemical industry looks noticeably different today than it did a year ago.

Five firms that were in C&EN’s ranking last year are no longer there. Dow Corning is now entirely part of Dow. Merck KGaA purchased Sigma-Aldrich, which was 38 last year. Solvay bought number 36 Cytec Industries. Axiall, number 28 last year, was purchased by Westlake Chemical, which climbed three places to number 15 in the ranking. Elastomers maker Kraton, number 32, bought number 45 Arizona Chemical and now also makes pine chemicals.

Mergers brought other big changes to the ranking. Olin’s chemical sales skyrocketed by 125.0% because of its purchase of Dow’s chlorine chemistry unit. It is now 17 in the ranking. Albemarle’s sales declined by 26.7% after the divestment of its Chemetall metal surface treatment business to BASF, pushing it down two places to number 25.

Slow economic growth and uncertainty are driving chemical companies to such mergers and acquisitions (M&A). “With rare exceptions, companies will increasingly find it difficult to enhance returns through organic growth and cost reduction within,” notes PwC chemicals deals leader Craig Kocak in a recent report.

At the IHS Markit World Petrochemical Conference in March, Dave Witte, general manager of oil markets, midstream, downstream, and chemicals at IHS Markit, echoed the sentiment. “If you are uncertain about where you are going to get that top-line and bottom-line growth, you know you can get it through M&A,” he told the audience.

Spin-offs filled most of the void left by the acquired companies. New to the ranking are Honeywell’s nylon spin-off AdvanSix, Air Products’ former electronic materials business Versum Materials, and the former W.R. Grace construction materials unit GCP Applied Technologies. These debut at numbers 37, 39, and 47, respectively. Others new to the list are Williams Partners at number 30, which operates a cracker in Geismar, La., and activated carbon firm Calgon Carbon at number 50.

At least three firms should be gone next year. Dow and DuPont executives expect to complete their merger in August. Last month, Germany’s Lanxess completed its purchase of number 33 Chemtura. Williams’s presence on the list is likely a one-year occurrence, as the company’s chemical business is being acquired by Nova Chemicals.

Petrochemicals are a profit center

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Chevron Phillips’s ethylene cracker in Texas is nearing completion.
Credit: Fluor
A photo showing the construction of an ethylene cracker in Texas.
 
Chevron Phillips’s ethylene cracker in Texas is nearing completion.
Credit: Fluor

In past years, many major oil companies, chief among them Shell and BP, shed large parts of their chemical businesses to focus on oil and gas. ExxonMobil, however, stayed loyal to petrochemicals.

That strategy is now paying off. Petrochemicals made up only 11.9% of ExxonMobil’s $219 billion in annual sales last year, but they generated 68.8% of the oil giant’s profits. Low oil and gas prices pinched its performance in exploration—especially its U.S. business, which lost $4.2 billion after taxes in 2016.

In a letter to shareholders, new ExxonMobil Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods notes that the chemical results “highlight the value of our integrated business model.”

Occidental Petroleum, a much smaller firm, suffered enough in its hydrocarbon exploration and distribution businesses to lose $446 million overall despite $571 million in profits from chemicals.

Chevron Phillips Chemical posted $1.7 billion in after-tax earnings even as one of its parent firms, Chevron, reported a loss. The other parent, refiner Phillips 66, netted a profit.

All these firms are deepening their involvement in petrochemicals. Oxy started up a cracker, a joint venture with Mexichem, in Ingleside, Texas, earlier this year. Both ExxonMobil and Chevron Phillips are putting the final touches on massive petrochemical projects of their own. ExxonMobil and Saudi Basic Industries Corp. are also studying an integrated project in Texas.

BASF again heads the foreign ranking

It should come as no surprise that BASF, perennially the largest chemical company in the world, has more sales in the U.S. than any other foreign-owned chemical firm.

The company continues to invest heavily in the U.S. Notably, it is building an ammonia plant in Freeport, Texas, with Norway’s Yara. It is also investing in plasticizers, herbicides, and the polyurethane intermediate methylene diphenyl diisocyanate.

Two companies, Formosa Plastics and Braskem, dropped off the foreign ranking because they have not posted results for 2016. Two additions are Wacker Chemie, which posted a 47.7% increase in regional sales during the year, and Israel Chemicals. 


Top 50 U.S. chemical firms

Sales slipped for nearly all companies in 2016 as raw material costs stayed low.

RANK
2016 2015 COMPANY CHEMICAL SALES ($ MILLIONS) CHANGE FROM 2015 CHEMICAL SALES AS % OF TOTAL SALES SECTOR CHEMICAL OPERATING PROFITSa ($ MILLIONS) CHANGE FROM 2015 OPERATING PROFIT MARGINb HEADQUARTERS IDENTIFIABLE CHEMICAL ASSETS ($ MILLIONS) OPERATING RETURN ON CHEMICAL ASSETSc
1 1 Dow Chemical $48,158 -1.3% 100.0% Diversified $5,629 -11.7% 11.7% Midland, Mich. $79,511 7.1%
2 2 ExxonMobil 26,058 -7.4 11.9 Petrochemicals 5,917 3.9 22.7 Irving, Texas 30,053 19.7
3 3 DuPontd 19,679 -4.9 80.0 Diversified 4,081 4.0 20.7 Wilmington, Del. 12,748 32.0
4 4 PPG Industriesd 14,270 0.2 96.7 Paints, inorganics 2,356 3.0 16.5 Pittsburgh 15,549 15.2
5 5 Praxaird 10,534 -2.2 100.0 Industrial gases 2,315 -6.1 22.0 Danbury, Conn. 19,332 12.0
6 6 Huntsman Corp. 9,657 -6.2 100.0 Diversified 606 -14.2 6.3 The Woodlands, Texas 9,189 6.6
7 8 Eastman Chemical 9,008 -6.6 100.0 Diversified 1,428 -8.9 15.9 Kingsport, Tenn. 15,457 9.2
8 7 Air Productse 8,554 -13.5 100.0 Industrial gases 1,864 -0.4 21.8 Allentown, Pa. 17,012 11.0
9 9 Chevron Phillips 8,455 -8.6 100.0 Petrochemicals na na na The Woodlands, Texas 15,465 na
10 11 Ecolabd 7,653 -3.8 59.1 Process services 1,040 -4.7 13.6 St. Paul na na
11 10 Mosaic 7,163 -19.5 100.0 Fertilizers 506 -62.7 7.1 Plymouth, Minn. 16,841 3.0
12 12 Lubrizol 6,500 -7.1 100.0 Specialties na na na Wickliffe, Ohio na na
13 14 Chemours 5,400 -5.5 100.0 Diversified 96 -57.5 1.8 Wilmington, Del. 6,060 1.6
14 15 Celanese 5,389 -5.0 100.0 Diversified 911 31.5 16.9 Irving, Texas 8,357 10.9
15 18 Westlake Chemical 5,076 13.7 100.0 Petrochemicals 582 -39.4 11.5 Houston 10,890 5.3
16 13 Honeywell 4,864 -25.0 12.4 Fluorochemicals na na na Morris Plains, N.J. na na
17 30 Olin 4,821 125.0 86.9 Chlorine chemistry 240 122.5 5.0 Clayton, Mo. 8,036 3.0
18 22 Occidental Petroleum 3,756 -4.8 37.2 Petrochemicals 571 5.4 15.2 Houston 4,348 13.1
19 21 Trinseo 3,717 -6.4 100.0 Polymers 346 32.6 9.3 Berwyn, Pa. 2,410 14.4
20 19 CF Industries 3,685 -14.5 100.0 Fertilizers 666 -51.6 18.1 Deerfield, Ill. 15,131 4.4
21 17 Monsantof 3,514 -26.1 26.0 Agrochemicals 116 -91.0 3.3 St. Louis 3,964 2.9
22 20 Hexion 3,438 -17.0 100.0 Specialties 72 -75.5 2.1 Columbus, Ohio 2,055 3.5
23 25 FMC 3,282 0.2 100.0 Agrochemicals 529 172.9 16.1 Philadelphia 6,139 8.6
24 24 Ashlande 3,019 -11.7 61.0 Specialties 119 -63.5 3.9 Covington, Ky. 6,066 2.0
25 23 Albemarle 2,677 -26.7 100.0 Specialties 510 -12.4 19.0 Charlotte, N.C. 8,161 6.2
26 27 Cabot Corp.e 2,411 -16.0 100.0 Specialties 250 2.0 10.4 Boston 3,044 8.2
27 28 Momentived 2,233 -2.4 100.0 Silicon chemistry -23 def def Waterford, N.Y. 2,606 def
28 32 H.B. Fullerg 2,095 0.5 100.0 Specialties 202 18.6 9.7 St. Paul 2,058 9.8
29 31 NewMarket Corp. 2,049 -4.3 100.0 Fuel additives 363 1.7 17.7 Richmond, Va. 1,416 25.6
30 -- Williams Partnersd 1,921 8.9 25.6 Petrochemicals na na na Tulsa, Okla. 2,304 na
31 33 Stepan 1,766 -0.6 100.0 Detergents 133 11.2 7.5 Northfield, Ill. 1,354 9.8
32 40 Kraton 1,744 68.6 100.0 Polymers, pine chemicals 136 648.9 7.8 Houston 2,907 4.7
33 34 Chemtura 1,654 -5.2 100.0 Specialties 224 32.5 13.5 Philadelphia 2,168 10.3
34 26 W.R. Grace 1,599 -47.6 100.0 Specialties 298 -43.1 18.6 Columbia, Md. 2,912 10.2
35 35 Americas Styrenics 1,483 -7.3 100.0 Polymers 236 -5.8 15.9 The Woodlands, Texas 603 39.1
36 37 Kronos Worldwide 1,364 1.1 100.0 Pigments 84 490.2 6.2 Dallas 1,180 7.2
37 -- AdvanSix 1,192 -10.4 100.0 Polymers 54 -44.7 4.5 Parsippany, N.J. 905 6.0
38 39 Ferro 1,145 6.5 100.0 Pigments 110 29.1 9.6 Mayfield Heights, Ohio 1,284 8.5
39 -- Versum Materialse 970 -3.9 100.0 Electronic materials 277 14.2 28.5 Allentown, Pa. 1,044 26.5
40 43 Ingevity 908 -6.2 100.0 Pine chemicals 160 0.3 17.7 North Charleston, S.C. 833 19.3
41 41 Innospec 883 -12.7 100.0 Fuel additives 97 -14.6 11.0 Englewood, Colo. 1,181 8.2
42 44 Reichhold 850 -10.8 100.0 Polymers na na na Durham, N.C. na na
43 42 Koppers 830 -14.5 58.6 Coal tar chemicals 37 nm 4.4 Pittsburgh 776 4.8
44 46 PolyOne 779 -2.8 23.3 Pigments 128 -5.8 16.4 Avon Lake, Ohio 919 13.9
45 47 Innophos 725 -8.1 100.0 Inorganics 79 53.6 10.9 Cranbury, N.J. 643 12.3
46 48 Emerald Performance Materials 663 -6.1 100.0 Specialties na na na Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio na na
47 -- GCP Applied Technologies 624 -10.2 46.0 Construction chemicals 73 -13.3 11.6 Cambridge, Mass. 336 21.6
48 49 Minerals Technologies 592 -5.3 36.1 Inorganics 103 1.9 17.4 New York City 492 20.9
49 50 Omnovah 549 -9.8 72.2 Specialties 56 251.6 10.2 Beachwood, Ohio 451 12.4
50 -- Calgon Carbon 514 -3.9 100.0 Activated carbon 25 -62.2 4.8 Moon Township, Pa. 775 3.2

a Operating profit is sales less administrative expenses and cost of sales. b Operating profit as a percentage of sales. c Chemical operating profit as a percentage of identifiable assets. d Sales include a significant amount of nonchemical products. e Fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2016. f Fiscal year ended Aug. 31. g Fiscal year ended Nov. 29. h Fiscal year ended Nov. 30. def = deficit. na = not available. nm = not meaningful.


Top 25 foreign-owned firms

European chemical companies dominate the top 10.

RANK
2016 2015 COMPANY U.S. CHEMICAL SALES ($ MILLIONS) CHANGE FROM 2015 U.S. CHEMICAL SALES AS % OF TOTAL U.S. SALES COUNTRY
1 2 BASF $16,256 -6.3% 100.0% Germany
2 2 LyondellBasell Industries 9,077 -8.9 65.0 The Netherlands
3 3 Agriuma 8,880 -8.5 100.0 Canada
4 6 Air Liquide 6,898 73.3 96.0 France
5 5 Lindea 5,003 -3.7 100.0 Germany
6 7 Covestro 3,567 -5.5 100.0 Germany
7 13 Solvay 3,173 24.0 100.0 Belgium
8 8 Bayer 2,896 -2.7 26.0 Germany
9 11 Arkema 2,843 -0.6 100.0 France
10 9 Evonik Industries 2,758 -4.0 100.0 Germany
11 18 Shin-Etsu Chemicalb 2,721 8.8 100.0 Japan
12 10 AkzoNobel 2,720 -7.1 100.0 The Netherlands
13 14 Indorama 2,681 13.9 100.0 Thailand
14 15 Syngenta 2,306 -0.9 72.0 Switzerland
15 17 Alpek 2,104 7.7 100.0 Mexico
16 21 Lonza 1,945 21.1 100.0 Switzerland
17 16 PotashCorp 1,820 -20.8 100.0 Canada
18 19 Sasolc 1,594 -8.3 100.0 South Africa
19 22 DSM 1,590 -1.0 100.0 The Netherlands
20 24 Mitsui Chemicalsb 1,563 2.1 100.0 Japan
21 23 Lanxess 1,468 -3.1 100.0 Germany
22 -- Wacker Chemiea 1,460 47.7 100.0 Germany
23 25 Tronox 1,354 10.7 100.0 Australia
24 20 Yara 1,303 -17.6 100.0 Norway
25 -- Israel Chemicals 1,070 -9.0 100.0 Israel

Note: Figures from companies that report in native currencies were converted to dollars at average annual exchange rates from the Federal Reserve. a Sales include a significant amount of nonchemical products. b Fiscal year ended March 31, 2016. c Fiscal year ended June 30.


Market capitalization

Stock values for most firms jumped in 2016, a few by triple digits.

RANK
2016 2015 COMPANY MARKET CAP.($ MILLIONS) CHANGE FROM 2015
1 2 Dow Chemical $69,299 20.5%
2 1 DuPont 63,344 9.2
3 3 Ecolab 34,205 1.0
4 4 Praxair 33,387 14.4
5 5 Air Products 31,295 11.5
6 6 PPG Industries 24,382 -7.6
7 8 Celanese 11,079 12.1
8 7 Eastman Chemical 11,011 10.4
9 9 Mosaic 10,271 5.6
10 14 Albemarle 9,684 54.1
11 15 FMC 7,562 44.5
12 10 CF Industries 7,338 -22.9
13 11 Westlake Chemical 7,217 2.0
14 13 Ashland 6,798 -0.9
15 16 NewMarket Corp. 5,001 10.4
16 12 W.R. Grace 4,620 -18.0
17 18 Huntsman Corp. 4,511 67.3
18 17 Olin 4,236 48.6
19 -- Chemours 4,034 315.5
20 19 Cabot Corp. 3,144 23.0
21 23 Trinseo 2,627 90.9
22 21 H.B. Fuller 2,420 32.5
23 25 Stepan 1,825 64.7
24 24 Innospec 1,651 26.1
25 28 Kronos Worldwide 1,384 111.7
26 27 Ferro 1,195 27.9
27 29 Innophos 1,019 82.2
28 30 Kraton 883 73.7
29 -- Calgon Carbon 864 -2.0
30 31 Koppers 834 121.9
31 32 Omnova 451 64.2

Note: Based on share prices on Dec. 30, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2015. These 31 companies are the publicly traded firms on the Top 50 list that generate more than half of their sales through chemical manufacturing.

 
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Comments
Rory Blundell (August 23, 2017 9:35 AM)
Hi,

Why are the rankings missing the likes of Shell and Total?

Thanks

Rory
Alex Tullo (August 25, 2017 3:15 PM)
Good question. They don't break out chemical sales. Total does do it for specialty chemical sales, actually. But those alone are too low to make the list.
dhafir@hotmail.com (September 13, 2017 6:34 AM)
Hi Alex, very good report and distinguished effort. I have seen SABIC in previous report but this one it is not part of the list. Any specific reasons that can be shared and explained. Kind Regards, Dhafir
Alex Tullo (September 15, 2017 3:47 PM)
This is the list for the U.S. companies. SABIC is certainly on the global list, published in July.

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