Say What, WSJ?
Oct31

Say What, WSJ?

Here’s an article from today’s Wall Street Journal on companies pulling back in Europe because of the financial crisis there. It contains this passage: Other U.S. companies retrenching because of weakness in Europe include Dow Chemical Co., which in the fourth quarter plans to idle about four million tons of production of naphtha, a material used in plastics manufacturing. It apparently comes from this exchange in the conference call: Brian Maguire - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division This is actually Brian Maguire on for Bob this morning. I want to follow up on the previous couple of questions on idling in Europe and Asia. You mentioned a couple million pounds could be idled. Do you expect Dow or any of the JV partners to participate in that idling or do you think that it will come more from the competition? Andrew N. Liveris More from the competition. I did actually say a couple of million tons and actually, we've identified -- you know us well when we do this, we've identified about 4 million tons of vulnerable production right now based on pure naphtha cracker plays mostly in Europe but also some in Asia. There are a couple things wrong with the WSJ article: 1) Dow doesn’t make naphtha. Liveris was referring to naphtha-based ethylene production. 2) Liveris was speculating on what the broader industry might do, (at least in Europe and Asia) not on what Dow Chemical will do in the fourth quarter. (Dow doesn’t even have 4 million metric tons of ethylene capacity in Europe.) UPDATE: Now the WSJ story comes with a correction: Corrections & Amplifications Dow Chemical Co. estimates other industry competitors will idle about four million tons of production of naphtha, a material used in plastics manufacturing, in the fourth quarter. A previous version of this article incorrectly said Dow Chemical plans to idle about four million tons of production of naphtha. That's half right. It corrects the bit that is most important for Dow: that it isn't Dow capacity that would be idled. But it still implies that it is the raw material, naphtha, that is being idled, not the products, ethylene, propylene, etc. Close enough, I guess....

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Frito-Lay’s All-Natural Chips And Chemical Stereotypes
Mar25

Frito-Lay’s All-Natural Chips And Chemical Stereotypes

The Wall Street Journal had a piece yesterday on companies' moves to create all-natural junk foods that still have that special junk food taste. Newscripts readers will probably guess how the story goes- take out 'chemicals' and replace them with 'natural' ingredients. Well, that's not exactly how it plays out. The story acknowledges that some junk food ingredients that sound 'unnatural' are quite the opposite. It also notes that the Food and Drug Administration hasn't come up with a formal definition for 'natural', and that many natural foods are processed. I won't bother discussing why an all-natural diet that consists of potato chips and soda is not the healthiest. But I will throw a choice section of the article your way- about ingredients Frito-Lay has chosen to replace in its potato chips. Some ingredients—like ascorbic acid, a color stabilizer—sound artificial but are not. Frito-Lay is eliminating those from some of its snacks, too. Ascorbic acid has been replaced with rosemary, another natural antioxidant. Frito-Lay is slapping "all natural" stamps on its packaging as it rolls out the reformulated snacks—part of the company's largest-ever marketing campaign to drive home that many of its products are made from regular ingredients. Why the change, Frito-Lay? More reading: Well-written guidance on navigating words like "chemical", "natural", and "organic", by Sharon at I Can Has...

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Theme Park’s Lessons For Pharma
May03

Theme Park’s Lessons For Pharma

Last weekend's Wall Street Journal has a quote from a theme-park-cum-playground-cum-museum owner that I thought could resonate in pharma circles. "When you have millions of people do something, something's going to happen no matter what you do," says Bob Cassilly, the 60 year old founder of St. Louis's City Museum. Now, he was simply responding to the fact that his facility, which boasts the "Monster Slide", an outdoor jungle gym, and a ferris wheel with a view of St. Louis's famed Gateway Arch, has been named in a couple dozen personal-injury lawsuits. But his words made me think about drugs in development and on the market. Side effects happen. But it's still important to keep getting better at avoiding...

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