Rising petrochemical and plastics prices boosted net profits at Saudi petrochemicals giant (Sabic) to SR5.43 billion (Dh5.42bn, $1.45bn) in the first quarter of 2010, it said yesterday.
The company posted a net loss of SR970 million in the same period last year, Sabic said in a statement on the Tadawul stock exchange.
The January-March figure was also an 18.6 per cent jump from the fourth quarter of 2009's SR4.58bn, as prices for products from the Gulf's largest listed company continued to rise.
Sabic's gross profits for the first quarter were SR12.22bn, compared with SR3.62bn last year, the statement said.
The company attributed the improvement to "the high volume of production and sales, and a marked improvement in the prices of most petrochemical products and plastics compared to the fourth quarter".
However, Sabic said its income from steel products was hurt by rising raw materials costs without corresponding increases in the prices of final goods.
Improved prices and new production helped Sabic recover from its loss a year earlier, caused by a slump in the automotive, construction and consumer industries. Yanbu National Petroleum Company, a Sabic unit, started commercial operations in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's biggest economy, in the first quarter. Prices for olefins and chemical intermediates have advanced on greater demand.
Chief Executive Mohammed Al Mady said he expected the company to benefit this year from new production capacity coming on line in eastern Saudi Arabia and in China, "coinciding with signs of improvement in the global economy and the easing of the financial crisis".