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Lanxess First-Quarter Goal Indicates Better-Than-Expected 2012

Lanxess AG, the German chemical maker spun off from Bayer AG in 2005, predicted first-quarter operating profit of as much as 350 million euros ($462 million), indicating that 2012 earnings may exceed analyst expectations.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and one-time items will be at least 330 million euros in the current quarter, the Leverkusen-based company said today in a statement. That’s a gain of as much as 8.7 percent from last year’s earnings. The shares jumped as much as 9.9 percent in Frankfurt, the most in almost five months.

“This is extremely strong and would be above what we regard as an already very strong previous year figure,” said Michael Gorny, an analyst at WestLB AG, who has a buy rating on the stock. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted full-year earnings to fall 10 percent.

Chief Executive Officer Axel Heitmann said today investments in a new rubber plants in Singapore and specialty plastics factories in India, the U.S. and Brazil will help the company meet its 2015 target for 1.4 billion euros in operating profit. The CEO said he’s confident about business for this year and will give a more detailed outlook on May 9.

The shares gained as much as 5.55 euros, the biggest jump since Oct. 27, to 61.80 euros. The shares have gained 54 percent this year, boosting the market value to 5.1 billion euros.

‘Good Forecast’

“It’s definitely a good forecast,” said Jesko Mayer-Wegelin, an analyst at HSBC Trinkaus & Burkhardt AG, who has a neutral rating on the stock. “Considering the consensus is for a drop for the full year, the first-quarter guidance is higher than expected. It’s a good strategy to focus on growth regions such as Latin America and Asia.”

Ebitda excluding one-time items gained 1.2 percent to 174 million euros in the fourth quarter, beating an analyst estimate of 164.8 million euros. Sales rose 16 percent to 2.12 billion euros, also beating a 2.08 billion-euro prediction in a Bloomberg survey.

Net income dropped 81 percent to 5 million euros after the company wrote down 35 million euros on the value of its inventories after raw-material prices decreased, especially for butadiene. It also booked a charge of 20 million euros for shifting some of its capacity in pharmaceutical ingredients to its agro chemicals business because of a drop in demand.

The maker of specialized plastics and tire rubber will increase its annual dividend payment to 85 cents a share, it said today.

Lanxess may acquire small- to medium-sized companies valued at as much as 1 billion euros, the CEO said in January. The supplier of materials to tiremakers including Pirelli & C. SpA typically targets markets where it can hold a leading position.

The company spent about 420 million euros on acquisitions last year. It’s biggest purchases to date are Petroflex, a Brazilian maker of synthetic rubber for tires, tubing and plastics bought for $413 million, and DSM Elastomers BV, acquired for 310 million euros.

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