DALLAS - Celanese Corp. reported fourth-quarter 2009 net sales of $1,388 million, up eight percent from the same period last year. The increase in net sales was primarily driven by higher volumes resulting from improved global demand for Acetyl Intermediates and Advanced Engineered Materials products. The higher volumes were offset by lower pricing, primarily in Acetyl Intermediates and Industrial Specialties, driven by continued low industry utilization and lower raw material input costs. The fourth-quarter 2008 results included $54 million of net sales associated with the polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) business, which the company divested in July 2009. Operating profit was $109 million compared with a loss of $152 million in the prior-year period. Last year’s results included $94 million of fixed asset impairment charges, primarily related to the closure of the company’s acetic acid and vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) production facility in Pardies, France, and its VAM production unit in Cangrejera, Mexico. Excluding these impairment charges, the increase in operating profit was attributed to higher volumes and the positive impact of the company’s fixed spending reduction efforts. Net earnings were $5 million compared with a loss of $155 million in the prior-year period. The fourth-quarter 2008 results included $101 million of non-cash inventory accounting impact.
Adjusted earnings per share for the fourth quarter of 2009 were $0.50 compared with a loss of $0.40 in the same period last year. The 2009 results exclude $17 million of other net charges and adjustments, primarily related to the company’s manufacturing and administrative restructuring efforts. Adjusted earnings per share reflect an effective tax rate of 23 percent and a diluted share count of 158.4 million. Operating EBITDA in the period was $227 million compared with $63 million in the prior-year period.
“Our businesses performed well during the quarter, reflecting the strength of our leading global positions and our commitment to operational excellence and value creation,” said David Weidman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Overall industrial and consumer demand was maintained from the third quarter and improved significantly from the fourth quarter of 2008. Although 2009 was a challenging year for the global economies, Celanese made significant progress in executing its growth strategy and is well positioned to benefit as the economy recovers.”