RIYADH: Falling global oil prices dragged down the net income of Saudi petrochemical giant SABIC by 29 percent in the fourth quarter, the company said on Sunday.
SABIC, the largest publicly traded firm in the Gulf, reported net profit of 4.36 billion riyals ($1.16 billion) for the three months to December.
That compared with 6.16 billion riyals in the same quarter a year earlier.
“The decrease in net income is mainly attributable to lower average sales prices, partially offset by lower costs for certain feedstocks [raw materials],” a statement from Saudi Basic Industries Corp said.
The result was lower than the mean estimate of 5.39 billion riyals forecast by seven analysts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Full-year net profit was 23.43 billion riyals, a drop of seven percent from the 25.28 billion reported the previous year.
Mohamed Al-Mady, the company’s vice chairman and CEO, called the year-end profit figure “a good result for us.”
But he said the current environment of falling crude prices creates uncertainty for the firm, whose traditional markets are China and Europe as well as at home in Saudi Arabia.
“It’s going to be very difficult to judge the 2015 situation, just because of crude oil,” Mady told reporters, adding: “We are used to this cycle of petrochemicals.”
Falling prices are also affecting the steel sector, said the veteran executive, whose company operates wholly owned Saudi Iron and Steel.
Mady said the firm, which only sells steel domestically, had studied possible expansion in the sector but “any company would think twice” about such a move with steel prices sinking.
SABIC is one of the world’s largest petrochemical manufacturers, producing chemicals, fertilizers, plastics and metals.
Global crude prices have fallen by more than 50 percent since June on worries over global oversupply and weak demand growth.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter.