* Q4 Adj EBIT up 15 pct at 1.18 bln eur vs 1.12 poll avg
* Adj EBIT down 6 pct for 2016
* Sees 2017 adj EBIT up by as much as 10 pct
* Shares fall 2.7 pct to bottom of DAX index
(Adds share price, analyst's comment)
By Ludwig Burger
LUDWIGSHAFEN, Germany, Feb 24 Germany's BASF
, the world's largest chemicals group by sales,
forecast a rebound in earnings this year after higher
petrochemical prices boosted profits in the final three months
The company, whose products include catalytic converters for
car engine exhausts, insulation foams, vitamins and plastics,
said it was targeting a gain in operating profit before one-offs
of up to 10 percent in 2017 after a 6 percent decline last year.
Higher crude prices are expected to bolster its oil and gas
division and its large petrochemical complexes, which have
benefited from above-average investments over previous years,
will have better utilisation rates, BASF said.
But investors had hoped for an increase in operating profit
of more than 12 percent in 2017 and BASF's share price was down
2.5 percent at 87.69 euros by 1006 GMT, giving up the gains made
over the last two weeks.
"The market was too bullish on BASF's earnings perspective
and consequently too much hope is already in the share price,"
said Baader Bank analyst Markus Mayer.
BASF's fourth-quarter operating profit (EBIT) adjusted for
one-off items rose a better than expected 15 percent to 1.18
billion euros ($1.25 billion).
That was slightly above the 1.12 billion euros expected by
analysts polled by Reuters.
Strong demand for basic precursor chemicals that go into
more advanced products such as engineering foams enabled the
company to increase prices.
"Particularly in Asia, we continually increased our sales
volumes in the chemicals business," Chief Executive Kurt Bock
said in a statement, adding that investments made on plants,
equipment and product development in the region were paying off.
The earnings gain, however, was tempered by money set aside
for remuneration to senior managers, who are in for a higher
bonus after BASF's shares rallied about 14 percent in the fourth
($1 = 0.9453 euros)
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Harro ten Wolde, Greg