SAO PAULO Feb 7 Brazil's Braskem SA,
the largest petrochemical company in Latin America, reported its
strongest quarterly profit in a 1-1/2 years on Thursday, helped
by asset sales and higher Brazilian tariffs on competitors'
Braskem also said it plans to boost capital spending by 31
percent to 2.244 billion reais this year. A quarter of 2013
investments will go to a new complex in Mexico, with the rest
concentrated on higher maintenance spending.
The budget for new capacity in Brazil fell over 70 percent
from 2012, highlighting Braskem's focus on setting up more
competitive operations consuming cheap natural gas, like the
Ethylene XXI complex it is building with Mexico's Grupo Idesa.
Braskem said in a securities filing it swung to a
fourth-quarter net income of 275 million reais ($138 million)
from a loss of 172 million reais a year earlier. It was the best
result since a 420 million reais profit in the second quarter of
A weaker local currency and new trade barriers to protect
local industry allowed Braskem to raise prices in the Brazilian
market, boosting domestic sales by 16 percent from a year
earlier while overall net revenue rose just 8 percent.
Shares of Braskem gained about 4 percent in early trading,
nearing a four-month high.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and
amortization, a gauge of operating profit known as EBITDA,
nearly doubled from a year earlier to 1.399 billion reais.
Excluding one-time asset sales in the quarter, EBITDA rose 23
percent to 883 million reais.
Braskem said it plans to invest 2.2 billion reais in 2013,
70 percent of which will go to maintenance and improvements to