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Eastman Chemical Co  (EMN)
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Eastman Chemical Co

Business Description


Eastman Chemical Company , a global chemical company engaged in the manufacture and sale of a broad portfolio of chemicals, plastics, and fibers, began business in 1920 for the purpose of producing chemicals for Eastman Kodak Company's ("Kodak's") photographic business. The Company was incorporated in Delaware in 1993 and became an independent entity as of December 31, 1993, when Kodak spun off its chemicals business. The Company's headquarters and largest manufacturing site are located in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Eastman is the largest producer of polyethylene terephthalate ("PET") polymers for packaging based on capacity share and is a leading supplier of raw materials for paints and coatings, inks and graphic arts, adhesives, textile sizes, and other formulated products, and of cellulose acetate fibers. Eastman has 35 manufacturing sites in 16 countries that supply major chemicals, fibers, and plastics products to customers throughout the world.

Operating in a variety of markets with varying growth prospects and competitive factors, the segments in Eastman Division manufacture a diverse portfolio of specialty chemicals and plastics that are used in a wide range of consumer and industrial markets. Eastman Division has 31 manufacturing sites in 14 countries. It is focused on providing its customers with chemicals and plastics products that meet their evolving needs. Eastman Division is comprised of the following segments: CASPI, PCI, and SP, which are more fully discussed below.

The CASPI segment generally competes in the markets for raw materials for paints and coatings, inks and graphic arts, adhesives and other formulated products. Growth in these markets in North America and Europe typically is at or slightly below economic growth in general, due to the wide variety of end uses for these applications and dependence on the economic conditions of the markets for durable goods, packaged goods, automobiles, and housing. Higher growth sub-markets exist within North America and Europe, driven primarily by increasing governmental regulation. For example, industry participants are promoting products and technologies primarily designed to reduce air emissions. Growth outside of North America and Europe is substantially higher, driven primarily by the increasing requirements of industrializing economies.

The PCI segment competes in diverse markets for its performance chemicals and intermediates chemicals offerings. Performance chemicals products are specifically developed based on product performance criteria, which make market quantification difficult. Instead, the focus in this market is on specific opportunities for value-added products and market size. Growth opportunities and other industry characteristics are a function of the level and extent to which a producer chooses to participate in niche opportunities driven by these customer specifications. For PCI intermediates products, the markets are varied, from durables to food products to pharmaceuticals and, although opportunities for differentiation on service and product offerings exist, these products compete primarily on price.

The SP segment competes in the market for the development of plastics that meet specific performance criteria, typically determined on an application-by-application basis. Development is dependent upon a manufacturerís ability to design products that achieve specific performance characteristics determined by the customer, while doing so either more effectively or more efficiently than alternative materials such as polycarbonate ("PC") and acrylic. Increases in market share are gained through the development of new applications, substitution of plastic for other materials, and particularly, displacement by plastic resins in existing applications. The SP segment engages in the production of specialty copolyesters and plastic sheeting and cellulose esters and cellulose plastics. The Company estimates that the market growth for copolyesters, which has historically been high due to the relatively small market size, will be higher than general economic growth due to displacement opportunities. Eastman believes that the cellulosic plastics markets will be flat, or, at best, equal to the rate of growth of the economy in general.

Customers and Markets

Eastman Division focuses on establishing long-term, customer service oriented relationships with its strategic customers in order to become their preferred supplier. Eastman Division anticipates significant growth potential in its ability to leverage these relationships to provide sales opportunities in previously underserved markets, as well as expand the scope of its value-added services. However, from time to time, customers decide to vertically integrate their own processes and internally develop products or diversify their sources of supply that had been provided by Eastman. Growth in these markets in North America and Europe typically coincide with economic growth in general, due to the wide variety of end uses for these applications and their dependence on the economic conditions of the markets for durable goods, packaged goods, automobiles, and housing.

Because of the niche applications of the PCI segmentís performance chemical products, each individual product offering is tailored to specific end uses. Intermediates chemicals are generally more readily substitutable, and have a more identifiable potential customer base. In order to obtain a better understanding of its customersí requirements, which in turn allows it to focus on developing application-specific products, the Company focuses on establishing long-term, partnership-oriented relationships with its customers. From time to time, customers decide to vertically integrate their own processes and internally develop products or diversify their sources of supply that had been provided by Eastman.

The SP segment produces highly-specialized copolyesters, cellulosic plastics and compounded polyethylene plastics that possess performance properties for value-added end uses such as appliances, in-store fixtures and displays, building and construction, electronics and electronic packaging, medical packaging, personal care and cosmetics, performance films, tapes and labels, biodegradeables, fibers/nonwovens, photographic and optical, graphic arts and general packaging. The customer base in the SP segment is broad and diverse, consisting of over 900 companies worldwide in a variety of industries.


Competition

Competition within the CASPI segment markets varies widely depending on the specific product or product group. Because of the depth and breadth of its product offerings, particularly in the coating additives and solvents and adhesives raw materials product lines, Eastman does not believe that any one of its competitors presently offers all of the products that it manufactures within the CASPI segment. However, many of the Companyís competitors within portions of its CASPI segment are substantially larger companies, such as The Dow Chemical Company ("Dow"), BASF Corporation ("BASF"), and Exxon Mobil Corporation, which may have greater financial and other resources than those of Eastman. Additionally, within each market in this segment, the Company competes with other smaller, regionally focused companies that may have advantages based on location, local market knowledge, manufacturing strength in a specific product, or other factors. At any time, any one or more of these competitors could develop additional products that compete with, or that may make obsolete, some of Eastmanís current product offerings.

Eastman does not believe that any of its competitors is dominant within the CASPI segment's markets. Further, the Company attempts to maintain competitive advantages through its level of vertical integration, breadth of product and technology offerings, low-cost manufacturing position, consistent product quality, and process and market knowledge. In addition, Eastman attempts to leverage its strong customer base and long-standing customer relationships to promote substantial recurring business, further strengthening its competitive position.

For the majority of the PCI segment's intermediates chemicals, there historically have been significant barriers to entry, primarily due to the fact that the relevant technology has been held by a small number of companies. As this technology has become more readily available, competition from multinational chemicals manufacturers has intensified. Eastman competes with these and other producers primarily based on price, as products are interchangeable, and, to a lesser extent, based on technology, marketing and other resources. Eastmanís major competitors for this part of the segment include large multinational companies such as Dow, Celanese AG, BASF, and Exxon Mobil Corporation. While some of the Companyís competitors within the PCI segment have greater financial resources than Eastman, which may better enable them to compete on price, the Company believes it maintains a strong position due to a combination of its scale of operations, breadth of product line, level of integration and technology leadership.

For performance chemicals and other niche applications, there are typically few equivalent products, as the products and their applications are very specialized. For this reason, producers compete with others only to the extent they attempt to manufacture similar or enhanced products that share performance characteristics. Barriers to entry in this market have typically been technology; cost due to raw material, integration, size or capacity issues; and customer service. On a general level, Eastmanís primary competitors for performance chemicals are multinational specialty chemical manufacturers such as Ciba Specialty Chemicals Holding Inc., Clariant International Ltd. and Lonza Group Ltd. Recently, an increasing number of producers, primarily from China and India, have been entering the market primarily on price, benefiting from low-cost labor, less stringent environmental regulations and government support. These producers may later focus on improving their product quality and customer service. Although the entry of new competitors is impacting the pricing of existing products, Eastman believes it currently maintains a competitive advantage over these competitors due to the combination of its research and development applications, low-cost manufacturing base due to vertical integration, long-term customer relations and related customer service focus, as well as the fact that these suppliers are frequently unable to produce products of consistently high quality.

Competition for Eastman Divisionís products in the SP segment varies as a function of where the products are in their life cycle. For example, the SP segment's products in the introduction phase of the life cycle compete mainly on the basis of performance. As products begin to advance in the life cycle, and substitute products come into existence, the basis of competition begins to shift, taking into account factors such as price, customer service and brand loyalty. At maturity, where one or more competitors may have equivalent products in the market, competition is based primarily on price. Many large, well-recognized manufacturers produce substitute products of different materials, some of which may offer better performance characteristics than those of the Company, and others of which may be offered at a lower price.

Eastman Division has a full array of products moving across the SP segmentís life cycle. For example, two commonly used plastics materials in the heavy gauge sheet market are acrylic and polycarbonate. In general, acrylics are lower in cost, but polycarbonates provide higher performance. Eastmanís products capture portions of both markets. Customers of the SP segment can select from products that offer improved performance over acrylics at a slightly higher cost, or products that are lower cost than polycarbonates while still possessing excellent performance properties. In this way, the SP segment is able to meet the industry need for low-cost, high performance plastics materials and maintain a significant advantage over its competitors. With regard to engineering and specialty polymers products, the Company competes in market niches requiring polymers with combinations of clarity, toughness and chemical resistance. Eastmanís primary competitors for engineering and specialty polymers are polymer companies such as Bayer AG, Dow, GE Plastics, and others, including PC, acrylic and clear acrylonitrile butadiene styrene ("ABS") producers in regions outside North America. Specialty film and sheet competitors include SK Chemical Industries ("SK") and Radici Chimica Deutschland GmbH ("Radici") for PETG. Competition for packaging, film and fiber products is primarily from other producers of copolyester such as, SK, KoSa, Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi ("M&G"), Nan Ya, and Wellman, Inc. ("Wellman"); producers of cellulose ester polymers such as Acetati and Daicel Chemical Industries, Ltd.; or producers of biodegradable polymers such as, Cargill Dow LLC, BASF, and DuPont. Intermaterial competition with other polymers such as acrylic, PVC, polystyrene, polypropylene and PC is also significant in several markets and applications. Channels to market include corporate accounts, direct sales, e-commerce, and distributors.

Eastman Division believes that it maintains competitive advantages over its competitors in the SP segment throughout the product life cycle. At product introduction, Eastman Divisionís breadth of offerings combined with its research and development capabilities and customer service orientation enable it to quickly bring a wide variety of products to market. As products enter the growth phase of the life cycle, Eastman Division is able to continue to leverage its product breadth by receiving revenues from multiple sources, as well as retaining customers from long-term relationships. As products become price sensitive, Eastman Division can take advantage of its scale of operations and vertical integration to remain profitable as a low-cost manufacturer.

Eastman Division believes it has competitive advantages in copolyester and cellulose ester plastics. However, new competitors, such as SK in Asia and Radici in Europe, have entered the copolyester marketplace. These new competitors cannot yet produce the wide variety of specialty copolyesters offered by Eastman Division or the same level of technical assistance. Additionally, Eastman Division is committed to increasing the utilization of current capacity and maintaining its cost advantages obtained from its scale of operations and manufacturing experience. There can be no assurance, however, that the SP segment will be able to maintain this competitive advantage and if it is unable to do so, its results of operations could be adversely affected.

Voridian is a niche polyethylene producer due to its size and ability to target specific markets. Competitive advantage in these markets is achieved via operating efficiencies and new product offerings. Some polyethylene producers are substantially larger than Voridian, and have greater market presence and resources devoted to polyethylene than Voridian. This may allow them, or other competitors, to price competing products at lower levels, or devote substantial resources to product development, that Voridian is unable or unwilling to match, which may at some point reduce Voridianís polyethylene revenues.

Competition in the fibers industry is based primarily on product quality, technical and customer service, reliability, long-term customer relationships and price. To be successful, Voridian is required to minimize costs and maximize production efficiency. Competitors in the fibers market include one global supplier, Celanese AG, in both the acetate tow and yarn markets, and several regional competitors in each market. The supply and demand balance at a given time affects pricing in the market. Currently, the acetate yarn market has an excess supply of products due to manufacturing capacity remaining high while demand declined, resulting in lower prices. Voridian management believes it is well positioned to respond to competitive price pressures due to its scale of operations and level of integration.

In the acetate tow market, Celanese AG has capacity in China and has announced construction of additional capacity through expansion of existing joint ventures with the government-owned China National Tobacco Corporation. Increased local production in China may diminish access to this market by Voridian and other competitors. Global capacity utilization rates and pricing for acetate tow also could be adversely affected.

Cendian's target market is highly fragmented, characterized by many competitors offering partial solutions for the logistics requirements of chemical manufacturers. Competition also arises from in-house capabilities.

The market for Ariel's chemical regulatory products is fragmented. Most of the services provided by Ariel are currently performed internally at most large chemical companies.


Because of the specialized nature of the Developing Businesses segment coal gasification services, there are few third party providers of similar services. Customer alternatives to these services are to use internal resources, supplemented by assistance from engineering firms or the gasification technology supplier.





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