Albemarle CEO Mark Rohr says the grim economic climate reported in December has not improved, although some product demand has remained stable. In a mid-quarter conference today, Rohr says the specialty chemical maker’s Baton Rouge polyolefin plant that went online in January will meet orders, which have remained steady. With polymer demand off 50%, production has been reduced or halted at plants. Strong catalyst performance is anticipated this year, although costs remain high. Pharmaceuticals and agricultural product demand remain stable. Some polymer additives plants are expected to resume production by next quarter. Rohr says economic volatility is making market projections difficult, although the company is working on a two- to three-year market outlook.
The Baton Rouge-based company reported a 78% decline in fourth-quarter profit in December, mainly driven by demand declines in polymer additives in the global recession. In January, the company announced plans to reduce its local workforce by 50 people, mostly through attrition and buyouts. Worldwide, the company cut 250 of its 3,600 jobs through a $22.5 million restructuring program.—Anna Thibodeaux