MONSANTO, STERLING RAISE ACRYLIC PRICES
NEW YORK — The two U.S. acrylic producers now have something else to go with their ownership shifts: price increases.
Less than two months after announcing plans to spin off its specialty chemicals and fibers business, Monsanto said Monday it was raising prices 3 to 5 percent for the company’s full range of acrylic apparel and craft fiber, effective March 1.
On Tuesday, the same day it completed the acquisition of Cytec Industries’ acrylic business, Sterling Chemical followed suit by raising prices 4 to 6 percent for acrylic fiber. The hikes are effective for all deliveries after March 3.
Both companies cited continued rising raw materials prices and strong market demand for acrylic as the reasons for the increases.
“The price of polypropylene has crept up, and natural gas prices have dramatically increased,” said a Monsanto spokeswoman.
“Acrylic is an oddball, specialty fiber where there have been a lot of favorable things going on,” said Jay Meltzer, an analyst with JLR Redbook Research. “Total shipments were up 13.5 percent in 1996 — 69 percent in December alone — in a relatively static fiber environment. The acrylic business is just tooling along, so what do the producers do? They raise prices.”
The increases are the first for acrylic since the multiple hikes of mid-1995 and might be a harbinger of a new round of fiber price increases. Rumblings of chemical shortages have spurred talk of higher prices for several months. “We will see [price] changes before the end of the year,” Meltzer asserted, but he pointed out that conditions will probably keep prices stable in the near term. “There is still overcapacity in polyester, so users can go to other suppliers for better prices. And nylon didn’t have nearly as good a year as poly, so there’s no support for higher prices there right now.”