24/02/2017 10:52 AST

Germany's BASF , the world's largest chemicals group by sales, forecast a rebound in earnings this year after higher petrochemical prices bolstered fourth-quarter profit.

Quarterly earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) and adjusted for one-off items rose a better-than-expected 15 percent to 1.18 billion euros ($1.25 billion).

Strong demand for basic precursor chemicals that go into more advanced products such as engineering foams allowed it to mark up prices.

That was slightly above the 1.12 billion euros expected by analysts polled by Reuters.

"Particularly in Asia, we continually increased our sales volumes in the chemicals business," Chief Executive Kurt Bock said in a statement, adding that previous expenditure on plants, equipment and product development in the region were paying off.

The earnings gain, however, was tempered by money set aside for remuneration to senior managers, who are in for a higher bonus after BASF's shares rallied about 14 percent in the fourth quarter.

On an annual basis, BASF reported a 6 percent fall in adjusted EBIT.

The company, whose products include catalytic converters, insulation foams, vitamins and plastics, said it was targeting a gain of up to 10 percent in 2017.

Higher crude prices are expected to bolster its oil and gas division.

Oil prices are up more than 50 percent from year-ago levels. BASF's Wintershall oil and gas unit accounted for about 14 percent of operating profit last year.


Reuters

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