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BASF: expects 2019 profit 'slightly above' 2018

( - BASF, the world's largest chemicals company, expects its operating profit to be only slightly above its level in 2018 this year, citing a "challenging" environment and a high level of uncertainty.

The German group also said that it expects slight sales growth in 2019, mainly thanks to higher sales volumes and portfolio effects.

BASF expects the global economy to grow by 2.8% in 2019, considerably slower than in 2018 (3.2%), anticipating weaker growth in the European Union.

The company said it assumes that the trade conflict between the United States and China will ease, and that Brexit will go ahead without "wider economic repercussions."

BASF said EBIT before special items in the last three months of 2018 fell 59% to 630 million euros, due to lower margins in the isocyanate and cracker business.

Fourth-quarter sales rose by 2% to 15.6 billion euros, due to low water levels in the river Rhine, which severely limited shipments of raw materials to its key Ludwigshafen site.

The shares jumped 3.3% to over 67 euros, having risen by 10% year-to-date, while the wider chemicals market was up just 0.2%.

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