* Q3 adj EBIT up 15 pct at 1.69 bln eur vs 1.63 poll avg
* CEO: Q3 was robust, confirms goal for FY profit growth
* Strong automotive demand offsets currency drag
* Shares gain 1 pct, vs sector gauge's 0.4 pct increase
By Ludwig Burger
FRANKFURT, Oct 25 BASF squeezed out
faster than expected quarterly profit growth on Friday after
carmakers' demand for catalytic converters and high-tech
plastics helped offset weak overseas currencies for the world's
biggest chemicals company.
BASF, a weather vane for the business cycle as it serves
auto, construction, electronics and consumer goods industries,
sought to dampen any hopes of a swift global economic recovery
and pointed to a weak Japanese yen and Brazilian real eroding
the value of overseas revenues.
"The automotive industry is our most important industry.
There, we have seen very good growth in Asia, which is an
important focus for us. We've seen good growth in coatings,
catalysts and plastics," Chief Executive Kurt Bock told Reuters
Insider TV, adding that European markets were "okay" only
because of German carmakers.
BASF said that despite economic uncertainty and negative
currency effects it was still aiming to exceed 2012 levels of
sales and adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT).
Third-quarter group earnings before interest and tax (EBIT),
adjusted for one-off items, rose 15 percent to 1.69 billion
euros ($2.35 billion), more than the 1.63 billion euro average
estimate in a Reuters poll of analysts.
The shares advanced 1.2 percent by 1055 GMT on the positive
earnings surprise, outperforming the STOXX Europe 600 Chemicals
index's 0.5 percent gain.
Dutch sector peer Akzo Nobel also last week
surprised by beating market expectations.
Bock said the company was dealing with foreign exchange
market swings by concentrating production where it sells. The
company had achieved that in the United States, he added, where
the firm has 95 percent local production.
On earnings, its unit which makes specialty chemicals and
plastics for industrial use posted a particularly strong gain,
helped by demand for automotive sound insulation and seats from
New car markets in Europe, BASF's most important region,
grew 5.4 percent in September, only the third monthly gain in
the past two years.
The economic picture remained uncertain, it added.
"We do not anticipate an upturn in the global economy for
the fourth quarter of 2013. The environment is likely to remain
challenging," it said.
Optimism about the euro zone's economy hit a 2-year high in
September, a survey showed, but the private sector in the
region's largest economy, Germany, grew only at the slowest pace
in three months in October.
While BASF relies on Asia for growth, Europe is its most
important market, accounting for more than half of group sales.