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BASF completed the first quarter of 2017 with a 19% rise in sales compared to the same period of last year.
BASF completed the first quarter of 2017 with a 19% rise in sales compared to the same period of last year.

BASF completed the first quarter of 2017 with a 19% rise in sales (€16.9 billion) compared to the same period of last year.

"BASF has had a good start to the year 2017," said Dr. Kurt Bock, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE. "The demand trends we observed over the course of 2016 continued in the first quarter of this year."

In BASF Chemicals segment, sales rose by 36% compared with the previous first quarter to €4.1 billion, largely as a result of higher prices in the Petrochemicals and Monomers divisions. Sales were furthermore supported by the higher level of sales volumes in all divisions.

Sales of its Performance Products segment grew by 9% vs. the first quarter of 2016 and amounted to €4.3 billion. This was mainly the result of increased volumes in the Dispersions & Pigments, Care Chemicals and Performance Chemicals divisions.

In the Functional Materials & Solutions segment, sales grew by 18% Year on Year (YoY) at €5.2 billion. This was predominantly the result of a sharp rise in sales volumes, primarily driven by higher demand from the automotive industry.

BASF's Agricultural Solutions segment reported a 4% YoY increase in sales to €1.9 billion despite a market environment that remained difficult. The main drivers here were higher volumes and positive currency effects, with prices stable.

Sales of €829 million in its Oil & Gas segment were 36% higher than in the first quarter of the prior year, mainly driven by higher prices. The price of a barrel of Brent blend crude oil averaged US$54 in the first quarter of 2017 (first quarter of 2016: US$34).

Compared with the first quarter of the prior year, sales in Other rose by €133 million to €610 million, mainly as a result of increased prices in raw materials trading.

From a regional perspective, BASF was able to considerably improve sales and earnings in Asia Pacific in particular. Volumes in that region rose substantially in all segments; sales prices increased, especially in the Chemicals segment. The company said business in China was the main driver of this development.

Also worth mentioning was that BASF received an initial insurance payment of €100 million in connection with the accident that occurred at the North Harbor in Ludwigshafen last October. Around three-quarters of this amount was recognized in the Chemicals segment.

Despite a good first quarter result, BASF's expectations for the global economic environment in 2017 remain unchanged:

- Growth in gross domestic product: 2.3%
- Growth in industrial production: 2.3%
- Growth in chemical production: 3.4%
- An average euro/dollar exchange rate of $1.05 per euro
- An average Brent blend oil price for the year of US$55 per barrel

"We remain cautious when it comes to our outlook for the full year. We still see considerable risks with regard to macroeconomic development and the political environment," said Bock. "We confirm our 2017 forecast for BASF Group sales and earnings. We expect considerable sales growth for the BASF Group in 2017. According to our definition, that equates to an increase of at least 6% in sales. We want to achieve slightly higher EBIT before special items compared with 2016. In this case, 'slight' means a change of 1-10%; we expect the increase will be toward the top end of that range."

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