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Westlake Chemical reports Q4 results

Feb '07
Westlake Chemical Corporation reported net income of $14.4 million, or $0.22 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2006. This represents a significant decrease from the fourth quarter of 2005 net income of $73.6 million, and $1.13 per diluted share.

Income from operations was $8.5 million on net sales of $523.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2006. This compares unfavorably with fourth quarter 2005 income from operations of $112.5 million on net sales of $636.4 million.

The decrease in income from operations was primarily the result of lower selling prices and reduced sales volumes and the adverse impact of an unscheduled outage at one of the ethylene units in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

This unit was down 55 days beginning September 1, 2006 initially because of an unscheduled shutdown resulting from mechanical problems with a compressor that required extended maintenance.

During the downtime, a major maintenance turnaround was completed, as well as tie-ins of portions of a previously announced project to upgrade the feedstock flexibility of one of the company's ethylene units, which is expected to reduce energy costs and provide additional ethylene capacity. As a result of the unscheduled outage, maintenance expenses were significantly higher while unabsorbed fixed costs and lost opportunity were substantial.

Falling energy prices and reduced industry ethylene operating rates, which resulted from ethylene plants coming back online after several planned and unplanned outages in the industry during 2006, put downward pressure on ethylene and ethylene derivatives in the fourth quarter of 2006.

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