Business development in the segments in the third quarterSales in the Chemicals segment matched the level of the previous third quarter. The market environment in Asia was difficult; in Europe sales volumes declined. There was sharp volumes growth in the Petrochemicals division in North America. With €616 million, earnings in the segment exceeded the prior third-quarter level by €89 million, mainly due to higher margins in the Petrochemicals division.
Sales reached the level of the previous third quarter in the Performance Products segment. Volumes and sales prices remained stable while currency effects were negative. Volumes increased significantly in the Performance Chemicals division. In the Paper Chemicals division, however, lower volumes led to a considerable decline in sales. Fixed costs were reduced, thanks in part to restructuring measures. Earnings of €376 million matched the level of the previous third quarter.
In the Functional Materials & Solutions segment, sales exceeded the level of the third quarter of 2013 by 2%. Prices could be raised in most business areas, more than compensating for negative currency effects. Demand remained strong from the automotive industry, especially in the Catalysts division. Earnings increased by €10 million to €310 million, mostly through considerably higher contributions from the Coatings and Catalysts divisions.
In the Agricultural Solutions segment, sales were 3% below the level of the third quarter of 2013. Continuously falling crop commodity prices and correspondingly cautious purchasing behavior were noticeable in nearly every market. Price increases in all regions were unable to compensate for a drop in sales volumes. Earnings – in a generally seasonally weak quarter – fell by €129 million to €43 million. In addition to lower volumes, this was largely a result of weaker margins due to a less favorable product mix as well as increased expenses for research and development, production, and distribution.
Sales in the Oil & Gas segment grew by 17% compared with the previous third quarter. This was primarily attributable to sharply increased volumes in the Natural Gas Trading business sector. Sales growth was slowed by lower oil and gas prices. Earnings rose by €82 million to €504 million thanks to a higher contribution from the Natural Gas Trading business sector.
Sales rose by 3% in Other, mainly through increased raw materials trading. EBIT before special items improved by €98 million to minus €7 million. Valuation effects for the long-term incentive program played a significant role here; the foreign currency result also improved.