Thursday, November 29, 2018

Chemical and Metal Shortage Alert – November 2018


The purpose of this blog is to identify chemical and metal shortages reported on the Internet.  The sources of the information reported here are primarily news releases issued on the Internet.  The issue period of the news releases is November 2018.

Section I below lists those chemicals and metals that were on the previous month’s Chemical and Metal Shortage Alert list and continue to have news releases indicating they are in short supply. 
Click here to read the October 2018 Chemical and Metal Shortage Alert list.

Section II lists the new chemicals and metals (not on the October alert).  Also provided is some explanation for the shortage and geographical information.  This blog attempts to list only actual shortage situations – those shortages that are being experienced during the period covered by the news releases.  Chemicals and metals identified in news releases as only being in danger of being in short supply status are not listed.

Section I.  

None

Section II.   Shortages Reported in November not found on the Previous Month’s List

o-chloronitrobenzene: United States; sources no longer available

Reasons for Section II shortages can be broadly categorized as: 

1.  Mining not keeping up with demand: none
2.  Production not keeping up with demand: none
3.  Government regulations: none
4.  Sources no longer available: o-chloronitrobenzene
5.  Insufficient imports:  none
6.  Supply not keeping up with demand: none



Friday, November 23, 2018

Some Data on Synthetic and Natural Rubber Production and Revenues


Based on Internet research, global data on recent synthetic and natural rubber production and revenues are presented in tables 1, 2, and 3.  The data comes from a variety of sources, for example, various market studies.  Amounts provided at these studies can very, for example, 2017 synthetic rubber production might be given as 14.8 or 15.3 million metric tons (mt).  So, a “best guess” average or median is used in the tables.  The tables’ data are met only to be approximate; best used in comparing difference magnitudes in production and revenues from year to year and between rubber types.

table 1    year
synthetic rubber production (millions of mt)
price per mt (synthetic rubber)
synthetic rubber revenues (millions usd)
2014
14.2
 $                2,600
 $            36,920
2015
14.5
 $                2,100
 $            30,450
2016
14.8
 $                2,024
 $            29,955
2017
15.1
 $                2,022
 $            30,532


  table 2     year
natural rubber production (millions of mt)
price per mt (natural rubber)
natural rubber revenues (millions usd)
2014
12.1
 $                1,950
 $            23,595
2015
12.3
 $                1,560
 $            19,188
2016
12.7
 $                1,378
 $            17,501
2017
13.2
 $                1,651
 $            21,793


       table 3
synthetic rubber name
2017 production (millions of mt)
2017 average price per mt
2017 revenues (millions usd)
styrene butadiene (sbr)
5.1
 $                2,000
 $            10,268
polybutadiene (br)
3.6
 $                1,900
 $              6,886
polyisoprene rubber (ir)
0.8
 $                2,800
 $              2,114
butyl rubber (iir)
1.2
 $                2,400
 $              2,899
nitrile rubber (nbr)
0.6
 $                2,800
 $              1,691
ethylene propylene diene monomer (epdm)
1.4
 $                2,700
 $              3,669
totals
12.7

 $            27,527


Comparisons between table 1 and table 2 are interesting in that synthetic and natural rubber compete with one another, based on various factors.  From the tables, we see that synthetic rubber is used from 1.4 to 1.7 times more than natural rubber (on a global basis).  These differences should represent the various factors that go into decisions on replacing synthetic with natural rubber or vice versa in products.   Also, the tables show (assuming the price per mt data, which are approximate annual averages, are correct) that natural rubber tends to be from 70 to 80% cheaper per metric ton than synthetic rubber.

Table 3 shows six frequently-used polymers identified as rubbers.  The table shows the total 2017 production for these six as 12.7 million metric tons.   This amount differs from the table 1 2017 synthetic rubber production (15.1 million mt) because other rubber-like polymers are also manufactured (other than the six in table 3).   And tables 1 and 3 suggest that about 2.4 million metric tons (15.1 - 12.7) of these other polymers were produced in 2017.





Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Financial Benchmarking Data for Small Chemical Companies


A Canadian Government’s website provides financial data for small Canadian chemical companies.  Click here to go to this website.  The data is based on reporting to the Canadian Government by approximately 2,000 chemical companies ranging in size form $30,000 (Canadian dollars) to $5 million in revenues.   Income statement data are provided, but not balance sheet data.   The average revenue for all companies is $816,900 and 72.4% of the companies are profitable.  The average gross profit margin percentage is 48.1 percent.

The Canadian site provides data for companies offering the following products: basic chemicals; resins, synthetic rubber, and artificial and synthetic fibers and filaments; pesticide, fertilizer, and other agriculture chemicals; pharmaceuticals and medicines; paints, coatings, and adhesives; and soap, cleaning, and toilet preparations.

The United States Census Bureau has income and balance sheet data for chemical companies with total assets less than $25 million.  Click here to go this data (pdf file).  Assets of less than $25 million suggest companies similar in size to the companies represented at the Canadian government site.  The US Census Bureau data includes balance sheet data, while the Canadian data does not.   However, the US income data does not include cost of sales, so that gross profit margin percentages cannot be computed.  The US data also report on chemical companies by product offerings.

Such financial data for smaller companies, as given by the Canadian and US governments, can be difficult to find.  This data can be valuable to smaller chemical companies interested in benchmarking their financial data to other similar-sized companies offering similar products.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Chemical and Metal Shortage Alert – October 2018


The purpose of this blog is to identify chemical and metal shortages reported on the Internet.  The sources of the information reported here are primarily news releases issued on the Internet.  The issue period of the news releases is October 2018.

Section I below lists those chemicals and metals that were on the previous month’s Chemical and Metal Shortage Alert list and continue to have news releases indicating they are in short supply. 
Click here to read the September 2018 Chemical and Metal Shortage Alert list.

Section II lists the new chemicals and metals (not on the September alert).  Also provided is some explanation for the shortage and geographical information.  This blog attempts to list only actual shortage situations – those shortages that are being experienced during the period covered by the news releases.  Chemicals and metals identified in news releases as only being in danger of being in short supply status are not listed.

Section I.  

None

Section II.   Shortages Reported in October not found on the Previous Month’s List

Adiponitrile – nylon 6,6:  global; production not keeping up with demand
Coal:  India; supply not keeping up with demand

Reasons for Section II shortages can be broadly categorized as: 

1.  Mining not keeping up with demand: none
2.  Production not keeping up with demand: adiponitrile
3.  Government regulations: none
4.  Sources no longer available: none
5.  Insufficient imports:  none
6.  Supply not keeping up with demand: coal



Sunday, October 28, 2018

Japan Compared to South Korea’s Chemical Industry


The table below shows for Japan and South Korea data and information for several areas I judge to be useful in comparing Japan’s to South Korea’s chemical industry:


area
Japan
Korea
chemical sales as % global chemical sales (recent)
4.0%
3.3%
chemical sales billion USD (recent)
149
120
chemical sales per population (japan population - 126.8 million; south korea population - 51.5 million
1,175
2,331
financial - foreign direct investment billion USD
10
4 to 5
financial - m&a activity billion USD (recent)
21
9
financial - operating profit margin (recent)
6.7%
4.5%
innovation - bloomberg innovation index
6th from top
first
innovation - global innovation index
55 (13th from top)
56.6 (12th from top)
innovation - world economic forum global competitiveness index
5th from top
15th from top
innovation - world bank's human capital index
0.84
0.84
innovation - r&d (% of sales) (recent)
6.0%
3.0%
innovation - r&d billion USD (recent)
9
3
production: clusters - largest - names and square kilometer sizes
ichihara, chiba prefecture - 23 square km; kashima, ibaraki prefecture - 18 square km; mizushima, okayama prefecture - 13 square km; total - 54 square km
daesan - 14 square km; ulsan - 45 square km; yeosu - 28 square km; total - 87 square km
production: ethylene production (metric tons) (recent)
6,530,000
8,200,000
trade: chemical exports billion USD (recent)
95
49
trade: chemical exports % of chemical sales
64%
41%
trade: chemical exports to china as % of chemical sales
7.8%
13.4%
trade: chemical exports to china billion USD
12
16.1
trade: chemical imports billion USD (recent)
70
27
trade: chemical  imports % of chemical sales
50%
23%


The areas are grouped into five categories: chemical sales; financial; innovation; production; and trade.  The data and information shown were obtained by Internet searching.  The data and information are believed to be approximate values only.

Chemical Sales:  The one outstanding divergence in country chemical sales is that South Korea’s sales per person is about twice Japan’s (2,331/1,175 = 2).  This suggests that South Korea has more effective/efficient chemical production.

Financial:  Japan’s chemical industry operating profit margin is higher than South Korea’s, suggesting a more profitable chemical industry.   This is likely related to Japan’s greater emphasis, over a longer period, on the higher margin, specialty chemical sector versus the basic chemical sector.   The higher research and development (r&d) expenditure as a percentage of sales (see data under innovation) is consistent with a greater emphasis on specialty chemicals.  South Korea has in recent years begun to emphasize in its planning special chemical sector development.  The larger foreign direct investment (fdi) and merger and acquisition (m&a) amounts for Japan reflects Japan’s greater chemical sales.

Innovation:   The various indexes (e.g., human capital and innovation) are not substantially differentiated between Japan and South Korea, although surprisingly South Koras has moved to first in the most recent update of the Bloomberg Innovation Index.  Under innovation, what is distinctive is Japan’s higher r&d expenditures as a percentage of sales (see the above comments under financial for more on this.)

Production: Somewhat surprising is South Korea’s significantly higher production of ethylene, likely reflecting South Korea’s emphasis earlier in its history (1950s – 80s) on its basic chemical sector building refinery and cracker capacities.  Also, with respect to production, South Korea has put an emphasis on cluster development resulting in a world-class cluster at Ulsan.  This emphasis seems to be the result of a strong government planning process to create a globally-competitive chemical industry.

Trade:  Japan seems to be more active in chemical trade with other countries, e.g., its chemical exports is 64% of its chemical sales versus 41% for South Korea.  However, an important plus for South Korea is the greater chemical exports to China compared to Japan (13.4% of chemical sales for South Korea versus 7.8% for Japan), a significant point with China being such a huge potential trading partner as its economy continues to grow.



Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Country Economic Strength Assessments Based on Indices


The following table shows eight index values for seven countries: China; Brazil; Germany; India; Russia; Turkey; and the United States:

index
china
brazil
germany
india
russia
turkey
united states
median
above median
ease of doing business world bank
65.3
56.5
79
60.76
75.5
69.14
82.5
69.14
germany russia united states
eiu democracy
3.1
6.86
8.61
7.23
3.17
4.88
7.98
6.86
germany india united states
global innovation
53.1
33.4
58.03
35.8
37.9
37.42
59.81
37.9
china germany united states
heritage economic freedom
57.8
51.4
74.2
54.5
58.2
65.4
75.7
58.2
germany turkey united states
transparency international corruption
41
37
81
40
29
40
75
40
china germany united states
world economic forum competitiveness
5
4.1
5.7
4.6
4.6
4.4
5.9
4.6
china germany united states
world justice rule of law
0.5
0.54
0.83
0.52
0.47
0.42
0.73
0.52
brazil germany united states
worldwide government world bank
50-75th
25-50th
90-100th
50-75th
50-75th
50-75th
90-100th

germany united states



The eight indices compare countries based on governance (EIU Democracy index; Heritage Economic Freedom index; World Justice Rule of Law index; and Worldwide Government index); competitiveness (Global Innovation index and World Economic Forum Competitiveness index); and business environment (World Bank Ease of Doing Business index and Transparency International Corruption index).   Values from each of these indices for the seven countries are provided along with the median value of the seven countries for each index.  The median value for each index is shown in red, those values below the median in blue, and values above the median in black.

These indices individually are intended to measure and compare such governance characteristics of a country as accountability, political stability, governmental effectiveness, regulatory quality, and the rule of law.  Two indices attempt to measure a country’s competitive strengths.  And two indices attempt to measure the ease and the risk of doing business in a country.   Political economists have long looked to such characteristics as measurements of a country’s disposition for economic success.

For each index, only two countries are always above the median: Germany and the United States.  Other countries appearing above the median are China (appears three times above the median) and Russia, India, Turkey and Brazil (each appearing once above the median).

I am assuming that the indices collectively provide a stronger indication than the individual indices of a country’s disposition for economic strength.  Therefore, appearing above the median consistently, as Germany and the United States do, is a good indication that these two countries likely have the strongest economies of the seven countries shown.  And such conclusions could be useful to chemical companies in deliberations on whether to make investments in a country.