* Q4 core profit down 2 pct vs expected 20 pct rise
* Weak titanium dioxide market hits its JV Sachtleben
* Company says no buyer for Sachtleben yet
* Shares fall 3 percent
HELSINKI, Feb 6 Finnish chemicals group Kemira
reported a weaker-than-expected fourth quarter profit
after a fall in the titanium dioxide market hurt its German
joint venture Sachtleben.
Wednesday's results underscored the weak position of Kemira
and Rockwood as they try to sell or float Sachtleben.
Chief Executive Wolfgang Buechele confirmed Kemira was
looking to dispose of Sachtleben, but said there had been no
opportunity for a deal yet.
"The market environment for titanium dioxide changed
completely in 2012, causing a deterioration of the performance
of the JV Sachtleben with a substantial negative impact on our
EPS," the company said.
The titanium dioxide industry, led by companies such as
Dupont and Saudi Arabia's Cristal Global, has had a
roller-coaster ride in the past few years.
Titanium dioxide particles can be used to reflect light,
creating whiteness in paints and car coatings. They can also be
used in sunblock and on plastic or wood for protection.
Producers cut capacity in 2009 only to see demand rebound in
the following two years, driven by the automotive sector. But
prices came under pressure again last year as idled plants came
back on stream.
Buechele said he did not expect the titanium dioxide market
to recover to a record high seen in 2011 in the foreseeable
He also warned that its other businesses, ranging from water
quality management to chemical solutions for oil and mining
industries, suffered from competition from bigger rivals.
Kemira shares fell 3 percent after the company's
fourth-quarter core operating profit fell 2 percent from a year
earlier to 33.7 million euros ($45.59 million). Analysts in a
Reuters poll had expected a 20 percent rise on average.
Kemira launched a new restructuring programme last year to
cope with the tougher business environment. It said it expected
adjusted core operating profit to be significantly higher in
2013 thanks to such cuts.