By Asma Alsharif
Q4 output rose from 2008, when plants had to be shut down for maintenance.
Saudi International Petrochemicals Co (Sipchem) posted a 63 percent rise in fourth quarter net profit on higher prices and output, boding well for its bigger rival Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC).
Sipchem made $15.1 million in the three months to end-December, up from $9.05 million in the same period last year, it said.
The firm's output rose in the fourth quarter from last year when it had to shut down some plants for periodic maintenance.
Its profit for all of 2009 fell 748 percent to $37/57 million, or $0.11 per share.
Like Sipchem, SABIC's quarterly profits have been severely hurt by the global slowdown which impacted both petrochemical products' demand and prices.
Abdulwahab Abu Dahesh, an independent economist, said: "It is clear that there is an improvement in the fourth quarter because petrochemical prices have improved ... SABIC is also expected to post an increase in fourth-quarter profits."
SABIC is due to announce its fourth-quarter earnings next week. Analysts expect SABIC's net profit to rise from the relatively small 311 million riyals it made a year earlier. (Reuters)