BASF annual profits tumble as car woes, trade wars bite

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) – German chemicals giant BASF reported yesterday its annual profits slumped in 2018, with knock-on effects from major customer sectors and geopolitical headwinds including trade conflicts taking the business off the boil.

Net profit at the group fell 22.6 per cent, to 4.7 billion euros, short of expectations from analysts surveyed by Factset.

“2018 was a year characterised by difficult global economic and geopolitical developments and trade conflicts,” the Ludwigshafen-based firm said in a statement.

“Slowdown in key markets, especially the automotive industry” had weighed on BASF, the company added, the latest sign of the wider impact of car production bottlenecks linked to new emissions tests in Europe.

Meanwhile demand from China also fell, in part because of Beijing’s trade showdown with Washington, BASF said.

Operating, or underlying profit at the group fell 20.5 per cent, to 7.6 billion euros, although the company was able to increase revenues 2.4 per cent, to 62.7 billion – slightly higher than forecast by analysts.

On top of the major headwinds from the car industry and global trade, BASF also had to contend with the impact of low water on the Rhine river.