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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(MARK ONE)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED December 31, 2023

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

FOR THE TRANSITION PERIOD FROM TO

Commission File Number 1-4462

 

STEPAN COMPANY

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

Delaware

 

36-1823834

(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer Identification Number)

 

 

 

1101 Skokie Boulevard, Suite 500, Northbrook, Illinois

 

60062

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number including area code: 847-446-7500

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12 (b) of the Act:

Title of Each Class

Trading Symbol

Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered

Common Stock, $1 par value

SCL

New York Stock Exchange

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12 (g) of the Act:

None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act Yes No

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act Yes No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer”, “accelerated filer”, “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

Smaller reporting company

Emerging growth company

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.

If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements.

Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to §240.10D-1(b).

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act) Yes No

Aggregate market value at June 30, 2023, of voting and non-voting common stock held by nonaffiliates of the registrant: $1,992,777,852*

Number of shares outstanding of each of the registrant’s classes of common stock as of January 31, 2024:

Class

 

Outstanding at January 31, 2024

Common Stock, $1 par value

 

22,381,409

Documents Incorporated by Reference

 

Part of Form 10-K

Document Incorporated

Part III, Items 10-14

Portions of the Proxy Statement for Annual Meeting of Stockholders expected to be held April 30, 2024.

* Based on reported ownership by all directors and executive officers at June 30, 2023.

 


 

STEPAN COMPANY

ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K

December 31, 2023

 

 

 

Page No

 

 

PART I

 

Item 1.

 

Business

3

 

 

Information About our Executive Officers

5

Item 1A.

 

Risk Factors

7

Item 1B.

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

16

Item 1C.

 

Cybersecurity

16

Item 2.

 

Properties

17

Item 3.

 

Legal Proceedings

18

Item 4.

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

19

 

 

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

 

Item 5.

 

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

20

Item 6.

 

(Removed and Reserved)

21

Item 7.

 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

22

Item 7A.

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

37

Item 8.

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

38

Item 9.

 

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

83

Item 9A.

 

Controls and Procedures

83

Item 9B.

 

Other Information

84

Item 9C.

 

Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections

84

 

 

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

 

 

Item 10.

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

85

Item 11.

 

Executive Compensation

85

Item 12.

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

85

Item 13.

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

85

Item 14.

 

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

85

 

 

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

 

 

Item 15.

 

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

85

Item 16.

 

Form 10-K Summary

89

 

 

 

SIGNATURES

90

 

 

 

 


 

SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

Certain statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, other than purely historical information, are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the Exchange Act). These statements include statements about Stepan Company’s and its subsidiaries’ (the Company) plans, objectives, strategies, financial performance and outlook, trends, the amount and timing of future cash distributions, prospects or future events and involve known and unknown risks that are difficult to predict. As a result, the Company’s actual financial results, performance, achievements or prospects may differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. In some cases, forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of words such as “may,” “could,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “seek,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “guidance,” “predict,” “potential,” “continue,” “likely,” “will,” “would,” “should,” “illustrative” and variations of these terms and similar expressions, or the negative of these terms or similar expressions. Such forward-looking statements are necessarily based upon estimates and assumptions that, while considered reasonable by the Company and its management based on their knowledge and understanding of the business and industry, are inherently uncertain. These statements are not guarantees of future performance, and stockholders should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. There are a number of risks, uncertainties and other important factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, that could cause the Company’s actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Such risks, uncertainties and other important factors, include, among others, the risks, uncertainties and factors set forth under “Part I-Item IA. Risk Factors” and “Part II-Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” and the risks and uncertainties related to the following:

accidents, unplanned production shutdowns or disruptions in any of the Company’s manufacturing facilities;
reduced demand for Company products due to customer product reformulations or new technologies;
the Company’s inability to successfully develop or introduce new products;
compliance with environmental, health and safety, product registration and anti-corruption laws;
the Company’s ability to make acquisitions of suitable candidates and successfully integrate acquisitions;
global competition and the Company’s ability to successfully compete;
volatility of raw material, natural gas and electricity costs as well as any disruption in their supply;
disruptions in transportation or significant changes in transportation costs;
downturns in certain industries and general economic downturns;
international business risks, including fluctuations in currency exchange rates, legal restrictions and taxes;
unfavorable resolution of litigation against the Company;
the Company’s ability to keep and protect its intellectual property rights;
potentially adverse tax consequences due to the international scope of the Company’s operations;
downgrades to the Company’s credit ratings or disruptions to the Company’s ability to access well-functioning capital markets;
conflicts, military actions, terrorist attacks and general instability, particularly in certain energy-producing nations, along with increased security regulations;
cost overruns, delays and miscalculations in capacity needs with respect to the Company’s expansion or other capital projects;
interruption of, damage to or compromise of the Company’s IT systems and failure to maintain the integrity of customer, colleague or Company data;
the Company’s ability to retain its executive management and other key personnel;
the Company’s ability to operate within the limitations of debt covenants; and
the other factors set forth under “Risk Factors.”

These factors are not necessarily all of the important factors that could cause the Company’s actual financial results, performance, achievements or prospects to differ materially from those expressed in or implied by any of the Company’s forward-looking statements. Other unknown or unpredictable factors could also impact the Company’s results. All forward-looking statements attributable to the Company or persons acting on the Company’s behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements set forth

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above. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and the Company does not undertake or assume any obligation to update publicly any of these forward-looking statements to reflect actual results, new information or future events, changes in assumptions or changes in other factors affecting forward-looking statements, except to the extent required by applicable laws. If the Company updates one or more forward-looking statements, no inference should be drawn that the Company will make additional updates with respect to those or other forward-looking statements.

In this Annual Report on Form 10-K, "Stepan," the “Company,” “we,” “our” or “us” refers to Stepan Company and its subsidiaries included in the consolidated financial statements, except as otherwise indicated or as the context otherwise requires. Our fiscal year ends on December 31, and references to "fiscal" when used in reference to any twelve-month period ended December 31 refer to our fiscal years ended December 31. The term "GAAP" refers to accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.

 

 

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PART I

 

 

Item 1. Business

Stepan Company, which was incorporated under the laws of the state of Delaware on February 19, 1959, and its subsidiaries produce specialty and intermediate chemicals, which are sold to other manufacturers and used in a variety of end products. The Company has three reportable segments: Surfactants, Polymers and Specialty Products.

Revenue-Generating Products

Surfactants are chemical agents that affect the interaction between two surfaces; they can provide actions such as detergency (i.e., the ability of water to remove soil from another surface), wetting and foaming, dispersing, emulsification (aiding two dissimilar liquids to mix), demulsification, viscosity modifications and biocidal disinfectants. Surfactants are the basic cleaning agent in detergents for washing clothes, dishes, carpets, fine fabrics, floors and walls. Surfactants are also used for the same purpose in shampoos, body wash and conditioners, fabric softeners, toothpastes, cosmetics and other personal care products. Commercial and industrial applications include emulsifiers for agricultural products, emulsion polymers such as floor polishes and latex foams and coatings, wetting and foaming agents for wallboard manufacturing and surfactants for oilfield applications.

Polymers, which include polyurethane polyols, polyester resins and phthalic anhydride, are used in a variety of applications. Polyurethane polyols are used in the manufacture of rigid foam for thermal insulation in the construction industry. They are also a raw material base for coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers (CASE) applications. Polyester resins, which include liquid and powdered products, are used in CASE applications. Phthalic anhydride is used in polyester resins, alkyd resins, and plasticizers for applications in construction materials and components of automotive, boating, and other consumer products and internally in the production of polyols.

Specialty Products are chemicals used in food, flavoring, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical applications.

Competitive Conditions

The Company does not sell directly to the retail market but sells to a wide range of manufacturers in many industries and has many competitors. The principal methods of competition are product performance, price, technical assistance, the ability to meet the specific needs of individual customers and availability of sufficient capacity. These factors allow the Company to compete on bases other than price alone, reducing the extent of competition compared to that experienced in the sales of commodity chemicals having identical performance characteristics. The Company is one of the leading merchant producers of surfactants in the world. In the case of surfactants, much of the Company’s competition comes from several large global and regional producers and the internal divisions of larger customers. In the manufacturing of polymers, the Company competes with the chemical divisions of several large companies, as well as with other small specialty chemical manufacturers. In specialty products, the Company competes with several large firms plus numerous small companies.

Material Resources

Substantially all of the Company’s manufacturing plants operate on electricity and interruptible natural gas. During peak heating demand periods, gas service to all plants may be temporarily interrupted for varying periods ranging from a few days to several months. The plants operate on fuel oil during these periods of interruption. In January 2022, the Company’s Elwood, Illinois (Millsdale) facility suffered power outages that caused temporary shutdowns and further related operational issues. The Company’s operations have not experienced any other plant shutdowns or material adverse effects upon its business in recent years that were caused by a lack of available energy sources, other than temporary service interruptions brought on by mechanical failure or severe weather conditions.

The principal raw materials used by the Company are petroleum or plant based. For 2024, the Company has contracts with suppliers that cover most of its forecasted requirements for major raw materials and is not substantially dependent upon any one supplier.

Compliance with Government Regulations

We operate in a number of jurisdictions and are subject to numerous international, federal, state and local laws and regulations covering a wide variety of subject matters. We are subject to extensive environmental, health and safety laws and regulations in multiple jurisdictions because we blend, manage, handle, store, sell, transport and arrange for the disposal of chemicals, hazardous materials and hazardous waste. These include, without limitation, laws regulating discharges of hazardous substances into the soil, air and water, blending, managing, handling, storing, selling, transporting and disposing of hazardous substances, investigation and remediation of contaminated properties and protecting the safety of our employees and others. Some of these laws and regulations include the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of

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Chemicals (REACH), among others. Some of our operations are required to hold environmental permits and licenses to be compliant and certain of our services businesses are also impacted by these laws.

Compliance with applicable foreign, federal, state and local regulations regarding the discharge of materials into the environment, or otherwise relating to the protection of the environment, involved capital expenditures by the Company of $8.5 million during 2023. These expenditures represented approximately three percent of the Company’s total 2023 capital expenditures. Capitalized environmental expenditures are depreciated and charged on a straight-line basis to pretax earnings over their estimated useful lives, which are typically 10 to 15 years. Recurring costs associated with the operation and maintenance of facilities for waste treatment and waste disposal and managing environmental compliance in ongoing operations at our manufacturing locations were approximately $38.3 million in 2023. In addition, in response to recent regulations limiting the amount of 1,4 dioxane in certain consumer products, the Company has made capital expenditures to modify its manufacturing process to reduce 1,4 dioxane content in ethoxylated surfactants. These 1,4 dioxane-related capital investments position the Company to continue serving existing customers and pursue new market opportunities. Compliance with regulations is not expected to have a material adverse effect on the Company’s earnings and competitive position in the foreseeable future.

Human Capital Resources

At December 31, 2023 and 2022, the Company employed 2,389 and 2,453 persons, respectively. We view our employees as essential to helping us realize our vision of delivering innovative chemical solutions for a cleaner, healthier and more energy efficient world. The Company’s five Values reflect our shared commitment to this vision and serve as a guide as we operate our business: (1) People First: Empowering Everyone to Make a Difference – we listen, share and recognize great work; (2) Integrity: Doing the Right Thing – we do what is right and safe, and can be counted upon to fulfill our commitments and speak up when we have concerns; (3) Customer Focused: Partnering to Deliver Value – our approach to collaborative chemistry helps our customers’ products perform and deliver solutions that serve the needs of our global community; (4) Continuous Improvement: Improving Every Day – we embrace a spirit of continuous learning to improve the sustainability of our practices and our products; and (5) Growth, Innovation and Sustainability: Shaping the Future Through Curiosity – we see incredible possibilities and accept the challenge to make a positive impact.

Safety for all employees, our business partners, and the communities in which we operate continues to be a top priority. We have a long-standing focus on safety and responsible chemicals management, as well as a commitment to the environmental, health, safety and security performance initiative of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), a U.S.-based chemical industry association. As part of this focus and commitment, the Company invests in behavior-based and risk-based safety programs for its global workforce. The goal of these programs is to help establish habits and behaviors that promote safety awareness, thinking, and responsiveness. All Company facilities are ISO 9001:2015 certified, and the Company conforms to the ACC Responsible Care Management System at its U.S. sites. In addition, facilities outside the United States are encouraged to participate in their country-specific Responsible Care® program equivalents. Special recognition is given annually to the Company’s facilities that have demonstrated safety achievements. The President’s Safety Award is given to sites that meet specific criteria for recordable incidents and injuries, as well as other safety and compliance requirements, over the course of the year.

We depend on our highly skilled workforce to reach our business goals, and through a robust commitment to promote safety and well-being, enable professional development, and provide competitive benefits, the Company aims to attract and retain top talent. We value the fact that we have a diverse, inclusive, and engaged community of workers, and our goal is to create workplace environments built on respect, safety, strong teamwork, and high competency. Employee feedback is regularly solicited on workplace practices and culture. Results from these surveys are used at the corporate and site levels to define needs and develop improvement plans. Across our operations, employees are encouraged and supported in developing the technical and leadership skills they need to excel at their work and to advance in their roles. The Company provides an array of opportunities, including leadership training, technical training and certifications, language training, and educational assistance. Developing our talent pipeline and retaining our skilled labor force is a key focus, and our objective is to support employees’ progress toward their professional goals through opportunities within the Company. Employees receive comprehensive and competitive benefits packages aimed at attracting top talent and supporting needs for work-life balance. Employees are rewarded for their positive contributions to company success with Pay-for-Performance incentives, profit sharing and an employee stock ownership plan.

Acquisitions and Dispositions

See Note 20, Acquisitions, of the notes to the Company’s consolidated financial statements (included in Item 8 of this Form 10-K) for information regarding the Company’s acquisition activities.

Website

The Company’s website address is www.stepan.com. The Company makes available free of charge on or through its website its annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and all amendments to those reports as

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soon as reasonably practicable after such material is electronically filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC). The Company routinely posts important information for investors on its website in the "Investors" section and may use its website as a means of disclosing material, non-public information and for complying with its disclosure obligations under Regulation FD. Investors should monitor the Investors section of the Company’s website, in addition to following the Company's press releases, SEC filings, public conference calls, presentations and webcasts.

The website also makes available the Company’s sustainability report, code of conduct, corporate governance guidelines and the charters for the audit, compliance, human capital and compensation and nominating and corporate governance committees of the Company's Board of Directors.

The information on our website is not, and will not be deemed to be, a part of this annual report on Form 10-K, or incorporated into any of our other filings with the SEC, except where we expressly incorporated such information.

Information About our Executive Officers

The Company’s executive officers are elected annually by the Board of Directors at the first meeting following the Annual Meeting of Stockholders to serve until their respective successors are duly qualified and elected.

The executive officers of the Company, their ages and certain other information as of February 29, 2024, are as follows:

 

Name

 

Age

 

Title

 

Year First
Elected
Officer

Scott R. Behrens

 

54

 

President and Chief Executive Officer

 

2014

Sean T. Moriarty

 

54

 

Vice President and General Manager –Surfactants

 

2017

Luis E. Rojo

 

51

 

Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

 

2018

Jason S. Keiper

 

50

 

Vice President and Chief Technology and Sustainability Officer

 

2019

David G. Kabbes

 

61

 

Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary

 

2019

Richard F. Stepan

 

47

 

Vice President and General Manager –Polymers

 

2021

Robert J. Haire

 

51

 

Executive Vice President, Supply Chain

 

2023

Sharon N. Purnell

 

46

 

Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer

 

2023

Scott R. Behrens has served the Company as President and Chief Executive Officer since April 2022. From January 2021 through April 2022, he served as President and Chief Operating Officer and from September 2014 through December 2020, he served as Vice President and General Manager – Surfactants of the Company.

Sean T. Moriarty has served the Company as Vice President and General Manager – Surfactants since January 2021. From September 2017 through December 2020, he served as Vice President and General Manager – Polymers of the Company.

Luis E. Rojo has served the Company as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since April 2018. From February 2018 to April 2018, he served as Global Hair Care Finance Director at Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G), a branded consumer packaged goods company. From April 2014 to February 2018, he served as NA Hair Care Finance Director at P&G.

Jason S. Keiper has served the Company as Vice President and Chief Technology and Sustainability Officer since June 2019. From October 2018 to June 2019, Dr. Keiper served as Head, Product Technology and Engineering, of Syngenta, an agriculture company.

David G. Kabbes has served the Company as Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of the Company since July 2019. From January 2018 to June 2019, Mr. Kabbes served as Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Chief Legal Officer of Bunge Limited, an agricultural and food ingredient company.

Richard F. Stepan has served the Company as Vice President and General Manager – Polymers since January 2021. From January 2019 through December 2020, Mr. Stepan served as Vice President, Consumer Products of the Company.

Robert J. Haire has served the Company as Executive Vice President, Supply Chain since May 2023. From January 2016 to May 2023 Mr. Haire served as Senior Vice President Operations, Performance Chemicals at Ingevity Corporation, a manufacturer of performance chemicals and materials.

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Sharon N. Purnell has served the Company as Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer since September 2023. From October 2021 to September 2023 Ms. Purnell served as Chief Human Resources Officer of Streamland Media, Inc., a media production company. From January 2021 to October 2021, Ms. Purnell worked as a consultant for SNP Consulting, a human resources consulting firm. From January 2016 to January 2021 Ms. Purnell served as Vice President Human Resources of Riddell Sports Group, Inc., a sports equipment manufacturer.

 

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Item 1A. Risk Factors

The following discussion identifies the most significant factors that may materially and adversely affect the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows. These and other factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, may cause future results of operations to differ materially from past results or those results currently expected or desired. The following information should be read in conjunction with Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (included in Item 7 of this Form 10-K) and the Company’s consolidated financial statements and related notes (included in Item 8 of this Form 10-K).

Business and Operations Risks

Chemical manufacturing is inherently hazardous and may result in accidents or may require planned or unplanned production slowdowns or shutdowns, which may disrupt our operations or expose us to significant losses or liabilities that may have a material impact on our business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

Manufacturing facilities in the Company’s industry are subject to planned and unplanned production slowdowns and shutdowns, turnarounds and outages. Unplanned production disruptions may occur for external reasons, such as natural disasters, weather, disease, pandemic, strikes, transportation interruption, government regulation, political unrest or terrorism, or internal reasons, such as fire, explosions, mechanical failure, labor-related work stoppages or slowdowns, maintenance, discharges, contamination, environmental remediation or other manufacturing problems. For example, in 2022, unplanned weather-related production disruptions at the Company’s Elwood, Illinois (Millsdale) facility impacted Polymer operations. Certain of our production facilities are, and production facilities acquired or built in the future may be, located in areas where unplanned disruptions are more likely. Alternative facilities with sufficient capacity may not be available, may cost substantially more or may take a significant amount of time to increase production or qualify with Company customers, each of which could negatively impact the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows. Further, some of the Company’s products cannot currently be made, or made in the volume required, at more than one of the Company’s locations. For some of these products, the Company has access to external market suppliers, but the Company cannot guarantee that these products will be available to it in amounts sufficient to meet its requirements or at a cost that is competitive with the Company’s cost of manufacturing these products. Long-term production disruptions may cause Company customers to seek alternative supply, which could further adversely affect Company profitability.

The hazards associated with chemical manufacturing and the related storage and transportation of raw materials, products and wastes are inherent in our operations. We cannot eliminate the risk of accidental contamination, discharge or injury resulting from those materials. Also, our suppliers and customers may use and/or generate hazardous materials, and we may be required to indemnify our suppliers, customers or waste disposal contractors against damages and other liabilities arising out of the production, handling or storage of our products or raw materials or the disposal of related wastes. Potential risks include explosions and fires, chemical spills and other discharges or releases of toxic or hazardous substances or gases, and pipeline and storage tank leaks and ruptures. Those hazards may result in personal injury and loss of life, damage to property, damages to public health and contamination of the environment, which may result in a suspension of operations and the imposition of civil or criminal fines, penalties and other sanctions, cleanup costs, and claims by governmental entities or third parties. Furthermore, the Company is subject to present claims, and may be subject to future claims, with respect to workplace exposure, contractor exposure to toxic or hazardous substances on the Company’s premises as well as other persons located nearby, workers’ compensation and other matters.

We are dependent on the continued operation of our production facilities and the loss or shutdown of operations over an extended period could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows. The Company maintains property, business interruption, products liability and casualty insurance policies, as well as insurance policies covering other types of risks, including pollution legal liability insurance. However, some of these potential manufacturing hazards and risks may not be insurable. Moreover, even when such hazards and risks are insurable, the insurance coverage may not be sufficient to cover all losses resulting from the occurrence of any of these events. Each of these insurance policies is subject to customary exclusions, deductibles and coverage limits, in accordance with industry standards and practices. As a result of market conditions, premiums and deductibles for certain insurance policies can increase substantially and, in some instances, certain insurance may become unavailable or available only with reduced amounts of coverage. There is also a risk, beyond the reasonable control of the Company, that an insurance carrier may not have the financial resources to cover an insurable loss. As a result, the occurrence of any of these events could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

The volatility of raw material, natural gas and electricity costs, as well as any disruption in their supply, may result in increased costs and materially and adversely affect the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

The costs of raw materials, natural gas and electricity represent a substantial portion of the Company’s operating costs. The principal raw materials used in the Company’s products are petroleum-based or plant-based. Natural gas is used in the Company’s manufacturing sites primarily to generate steam for its manufacturing processes. The prices of many of these raw materials can be

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subject to periods of rapid and significant instability. These fluctuations in prices may be affected by supply and demand factors, such as general economic conditions, regulatory developments with respect to and restrictions on the transport of raw materials (some of which may be viewed as hazardous), currency exchange rates, political instability or terrorist attacks, all of which are beyond the Company’s control. For example, in 2021 and 2022, supply chain disruptions and inflationary pressures increased raw material prices for the Company. The Company may not be able to pass increased raw material or energy costs on to customers through increases in product prices as a result of arrangements the Company has with certain customers and competitive pressures in the market. In addition, the Company’s suppliers are subject to planned and unplanned production slowdowns and shutdowns, turnarounds and outages. Unplanned production disruptions may occur for external reasons, such as natural disasters, weather, disease, strikes, transportation interruption, government regulation, political unrest or terrorism, or internal reasons, such as fire, explosions, mechanical failure, labor-related work stoppages or slowdowns, maintenance, discharges, contamination, environmental remediation or other manufacturing problems. Certain of our suppliers’ facilities are located in areas where unplanned disruptions are more likely. In the event of supply disruptions, raw materials may not be available to the Company in amounts sufficient to meet our requirements, and alternative raw materials may not be available, may cost substantially more or may take a significant amount of time for the Company to qualify. For example, in 2021, severe weather in Texas and the U.S. Gulf Coast caused production disruptions for several of the Company’s suppliers, which resulted in feedstock issues for the Company’s Surfactants segment. If the Company is unable to minimize the effects of increased raw material and energy costs or pass such increased costs on to customers, or manage any interruption to the supply of raw materials or energy, its business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows may be materially and adversely affected.

The Company relies heavily on third-party transportation to deliver raw materials to Company manufacturing facilities and ship products to Company customers. Disruptions in transportation or significant changes in transportation costs have affected and could continue to affect the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

The Company relies heavily on railroads, ships, and other over-the-road shipping methods to transport raw materials to its manufacturing facilities and to ship finished products to customers. Transport operations are exposed to various risks, such as extreme weather conditions, natural disasters, technological problems, work stoppages, personnel shortages and operating hazards, as well as interstate and international transportation regulations. If the Company, its suppliers or third-party transportation operators experience transportation problems, or if there are significant changes in the cost of these services, the Company may not be able to arrange efficient alternatives and timely means to obtain raw materials or ship finished products, which could result in a material adverse effect on Company revenues, costs and operating results. For example, during 2021, transportation disruptions due to driver shortages and increased costs negatively impacted results of operations in our Surfactants and Polymers segments. Similarly, recent conflict in the Middle East and the Red Sea has increased shipping costs and transportation times for certain raw materials and products.

Conflicts, military actions, terrorist attacks and general instability, particularly in certain energy-producing nations, along with increased security regulations related to our industry, could adversely affect the Company’s business.

Conflicts, military actions and terrorist attacks have precipitated economic instability, turmoil in financial markets and disruptions in the price and supply of raw materials and energy. The uncertainty and economic or operational disruptions resulting from hostilities, military action or acts of terrorism may impact the Company’s facilities and operations or those of its suppliers or customers. Accordingly, any conflict, military action or terrorist attack that impacts the Company or any of its suppliers or customers, or any resulting economic or operational instability resulting from such conflict, military action or terrorist attack, could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, results of operations, financial position and cash flows. For example, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 resulted in higher energy prices and concerns regarding the supply of natural gas to countries in Europe. Higher energy costs and reduced availability of natural gas in European countries could materially and adversely affect the operations and results of operations of the Company or its suppliers and customers.

Cost overruns, delays and miscalculations in capacity needs with respect to the Company’s expansion or other capital projects could adversely affect the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

From time to time, the Company initiates expansion and other significant capital projects. Projects of this type are subject to risks of delay or cost overruns inherent in any large construction project resulting from numerous factors, including the following: shortages of equipment, materials or skilled labor; work stoppages; unscheduled delays in the delivery of ordered materials and equipment; unanticipated cost increases; difficulties in obtaining necessary permits or in meeting permit conditions; difficulties in meeting regulatory requirements or obtaining regulatory approvals; availability of suppliers to certify equipment for existing and enhanced regulations; design and engineering problems; and failure or delay of third-party service providers, civil unrest and labor disputes. For example, in 2022 the Company disclosed that supply chain disruptions and labor shortages had delayed the expected startup of its Pasadena, Texas facility and that cost inflation had increased the expected cost of the project. Significant cost overruns or delays in completing a capital project could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s return on investment, results of operations and cash flows. In addition, if the Company misjudges its future capacity needs, this too could materially and adversely impact its business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

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Market, Competition and Strategic Risks

Customer product reformulations or new technologies can reduce the demand for the Company’s existing products, and the Company may not be successful in developing or introducing new products.

The Company’s products are used in a broad range of customer product applications. Changes in customer manufacturing processes, customer product reformulations, development and use of new technologies or changes in regulatory, legislative or industry requirements may lead to reduced consumption of the Company’s products or cause customers to consider some Company products obsolete or less attractive.

For example, increased concerns regarding the safety of 1,4 dioxane in consumer products and its potential impact on human health and the environment may lessen the demand for certain of the Company’s products. 1,4 dioxane is generated as a by-product during the manufacture of certain of the Company’s surfactant products, including alkoxylates and ether sulfates, used by its customers as cleaning agents in household cleaning, personal care and cosmetics products. In their finished form, consumer products that contain ethoxylated surfactants may contain trace amounts of 1,4 dioxane. 1,4 dioxane has been categorized by regulators as a toxic and carcinogenic substance at certain levels. In December 2019, New York adopted a law that, beginning in 2022 and 2023, permitted no more than 2 ppm and 1 ppm, respectively, of 1,4 dioxane in cleaning and personal care products and 10 ppm in cosmetics products. California and New Jersey are also considering regulating 1,4 dioxane. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) also continues to examine 1,4 dioxane as part of its environmental and occupational regulatory authority. Under TSCA, USEPA has identified 1,4 dioxane as a high priority chemical and has issued its draft risk evaluation and risk determination, with risk management measures expected to mitigate any identified risks. The European Union is also expected to propose a regulatory limit for 1,4 dioxane content in surfactants. We expect our customers to continue reformulating their personal care, cosmetics and cleaning products to comply with New York’s regulations. These trends and corresponding changes in consumer preferences could reduce demand for our ethoxylated surfactant products, as our customers look to reduce the levels of ethoxylated surfactants in their finished products to stay below the maximum allowed levels or transition to alternative surfactants with lower levels of 1,4 dioxane. We have modified our manufacturing process to reduce 1,4 dioxane content to allow customers to continue to use ethoxylated surfactants at current use levels, while also offering consumer product formulations that contain low/no dioxane surfactants currently offered by the Company.

An essential component of the Company’s strategy is a focus on continuing to develop new products to replace the sales of products that mature and decline in use, though the Company may not be successful in achieving its growth expectations from developing new products. Moreover, the Company cannot be certain that the costs it incurs investing in new product and technology development will result in an increase in revenues or profits commensurate with its investment, and the introduction of any new products may be disrupted or delayed by manufacturing or other technical difficulties. The Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows could be materially and adversely affected if the Company is unable to successfully manage the maturation of existing products and the timely and successful development and introduction of new products.

To the extent the Company seeks acquisition opportunities, it may not be able to make acquisitions of suitable candidates or integrate acquisitions successfully.

In recent years, the Company’s business strategy has included acquisitions to expand into new markets and to enhance its position in its existing markets. To the extent it seeks to do so in the future it may not be able to successfully identify suitable candidates, negotiate appropriate acquisition terms, obtain financing needed to consummate those acquisitions, complete proposed acquisitions or successfully integrate acquired businesses into its existing operations. In addition, any acquisition, once successfully integrated, may not perform as planned, be accretive to earnings, or otherwise prove beneficial to the Company.

Acquisitions involve numerous risks, including the assumption of undisclosed or unindemnified liabilities, difficulties in the assimilation of the operations and the transfer of all necessary licenses and permits, technologies, services and products of the acquired companies and the diversion of management’s attention from other business concerns. In addition, prior acquisitions have resulted, and future acquisitions could result, in the incurrence of substantial additional indebtedness and other expenses.

The Company faces significant global competition in each of its operating segments. If the Company cannot successfully compete in the marketplace, its business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows may be materially and adversely affected.

The Company faces significant competition from numerous global companies as well as national, regional and local companies in the markets it serves. Many of the Company’s competitors have access to greater financial resources, which may enable them to invest significant capital into their businesses, including expenditures for research and development. Some of the Company’s competitors have their own raw material resources and may be able to produce products more economically. In addition, some of the Company’s customers have internal manufacturing capabilities that allow them to achieve make-versus-buy economics, which may result at times in the Company losing business with these customers in volumes that could adversely affect the Company’s profitability.

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For example, in 2022, the Company lost sales volume from one customer that invested in internal production capabilities for low-1,4 dioxane products.

To maximize profitability levels, the Company must, among other things, maintain the service levels, product quality and performance and competitive pricing necessary to retain existing customers and attract new customers as well as continue to develop and introduce new products. The Company’s inability to do so could place it at a competitive disadvantage relative to its competitors, and if the Company cannot successfully compete in the marketplace, its business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows may be materially and adversely affected.

We are affected by general economic conditions and downturns in certain industries, in some cases driven by consumer preferences, and general economic downturns may have an adverse effect on the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

General economic conditions and macroeconomic trends could adversely affect users of some end products that are manufactured using the Company’s products and the industries in which such end products are used. During economic downturns or other periods of uncertainty, these users may reduce their volume of purchases of such end products or may purchase alternative products, which would reduce demand for the Company’s products. For example, in 2021 and 2022, construction project delays and cancellations related to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertain general economic conditions, including supply chain issues, reduced demand for the Company’s rigid polyol products. In addition, increasing concern among consumers, public health professionals and government agencies about environmental, health or wellness issues could lead some of the Company’s customers to limit the use of certain of our products or result in harm to the Company’s reputation. Reduced demand from the primary end markets for the Company’s products, such as the consumer products industry, could adversely affect the Company and demand for our products. Additionally, uncertain conditions in the financial markets pose a risk to the overall economy that may impact consumer demand for such end products and customer demand of some of the Company’s products, as well as the Company’s ability to manage normal commercial relationships with its customers, suppliers and creditors. Some of the Company’s customers may not be able to meet the terms of sale, which would result in increased credit risk and suppliers may not be able to fully perform their contractual obligations due to tighter credit markets or a general slowdown in economic activity.

In the event that economic conditions worsen or result in a prolonged downturn or recession, or consumer-driven preferences result in reduced demand for our products, the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows may be materially and adversely affected.

If the Company is unable to protect its intellectual property rights, the Company’s ability to compete may be negatively impacted.

The Company’s patents and other intellectual property may not prevent competitors from independently developing or selling similar or duplicative products and services, and there can be no assurance that the resources the Company invests to protect its intellectual property will be sufficient or that the Company’s intellectual property portfolio will adequately deter misappropriation or improper use of its technology. The Company could also face competition in some countries where it has not invested in an intellectual property portfolio, or where intellectual property rights are more difficult to obtain and/or assert. In addition, the Company may be the target of aggressive and opportunistic enforcement of patents by third parties, including non-practicing entities. Regardless of the merit of such claims, responding to infringement claims can be expensive and time-consuming. If the Company is found to infringe any third-party rights, it could be required to pay substantial damages or it could be enjoined from offering some of its products and services. Also, there can be no assurances that the Company will be able to obtain or renew from third parties the licenses it may need in the future on reasonable terms or at all. If the Company is unable to protect or maintain its intellectual property rights, the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows may be materially and adversely affected.

Regulatory and Legal Risks

The Company is subject to a variety of environmental, health and safety and product registration laws dealing with the production and sale of chemicals that could require us to incur additional costs or to reformulate or discontinue certain of our products, or expose us to liability or enforcement actions.

The Company’s operations are regulated under a number of federal, state, local and foreign environmental, health and safety laws and regulations that govern, among other things, the production and marketing of chemical substances and the discharge, use, handling, transport, storage and disposal of hazardous materials into the air, soil and water. In the United States, these laws and regulations include, but are not limited to, the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Occupational Safety and Health Act and state and local laws, such as California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). Analogous laws outside the United States apply to us in many jurisdictions, including, among others, the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of

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Chemical Substances (REACH) regulations in the European Union and the United Kingdom and Biocidal Products Regulations in the European Union and the United Kingdom. Compliance with these environmental, health and safety laws and regulations is a major consideration for the Company, and to comply with some of these laws, we may need to alter our product lines or implement different or more costly manufacturing processes (including the installation of pollution control equipment), which could lead to a material adverse effect on our results of operations. In addition, the transportation of certain raw materials is highly regulated and is subject to increased regulation or restrictions. These regulations may restrict or prohibit transport of these raw materials, resulting in these raw materials not being available to the Company in quantities desired by the Company or at costs attractive to the Company, which may restrict or substantially limit the Company’s manufacturing operations.

The REACH regulations are registration systems that impose obligations on manufacturers and importers of chemicals and other products into the European Union and United Kingdom to compile and file reports and testing data on, and perform safety assessments for, certain chemical substances. Any new substances introduced to the EU or UK markets in the future must be registered. The costs associated with the Company’s compliance with these registrations have been substantial and are expected to increase as product sales increase because higher tonnage bands have higher annual registration fees and require more testing to support the registration. Moreover, if a registration in the future is not submitted by any applicable deadline, our ability to sell those products may be negatively impacted until the registration process has been completed. In addition, the European Chemical Agency is evaluating existing chemical registrations and may require additional testing and data collection. Chemicals may be assessed and removed from EU commerce entirely, potentially requiring the Company to discontinue certain product lines and to reformulate others, which could materially alter the Company’s marketplace position or otherwise have a material financial effect on its revenues and expenses. Regulators in other countries are also implementing chemical registration regulations similar to the REACH regulations.

Furthermore, some of the laws and regulations applicable to us have changed in recent years to impose new obligations or increasing compliance costs that could also force us to reformulate or discontinue certain of our products. For example, the European Union is now requiring a review of existing active biocide substances, and based on this review, the European Commission or an individual member state may decide not to authorize the product for continued sale. As another example, TSCA now mandates that the USEPA must designate “high priority” chemicals and perform a risk evaluation, which could result in a finding of “unreasonable risk” and a decision to promulgate new regulations to address such risk. As a result of such regulations, our ability to sell certain products may be curtailed and customers may avoid purchasing some products in favor of less regulated, less hazardous or less costly alternatives. The Company may offer alternative products, sales of which may or may not replace sales of such curtailed products. It may be impractical for us to continue manufacturing heavily regulated products, and we may incur costs to shut down or transition such operations to alternative products. In this regard, the nature, stringency and timing of any future regulations or changes in regulations are uncertain.

In addition, increasingly stringent regulation of human exposure to ethylene oxide by regulatory authorities in the United States could require material expenditures or changes in our manufacturing operations. The Company uses ethylene oxide at its Winder, Georgia and Elwood, Illinois (Millsdale) facilities and expects to use ethylene oxide at its Pasadena, Texas facility. The Company uses ethylene oxide in a closed loop process to manufacture surfactants that are used in products such as laundry detergents. The Company does not manufacture ethylene oxide, nor does it use ethylene oxide as a fumigant. Ethylene oxide is listed as a hazardous air pollutant under the Clean Air Act, as amended, emissions of which are regulated by the USEPA and other regulatory authorities. In 2020, Georgia adopted a law requiring any spill or release of ethylene oxide that occurs outside of normal operations to be reported to the state within 24 hours. Georgia and Illinois legislators have proposed legislation that would impose additional restrictions on the use of ethylene oxide. The USEPA is considering new standards for ethylene oxide emissions. While our production facilities have not yet been materially affected by changes in ethylene oxide regulation, any additional regulatory restrictions on the use or emission of ethylene oxide by facilities could impair our ability to manufacturer certain products in affected locations, including at our Winder, Georgia, Elwood, Illinois (Millsdale) and Pasadena, Texas facilities.

Compliance with environmental laws could restrict the Company’s ability to expand its facilities or require the Company to modify its facilities and processes or acquire additional costly pollution control equipment, incur other significant expenses, or expose the Company to greater liability associated with its production processes and products. The Company has incurred and will continue to incur capital expenditures and operating costs in complying with these laws and regulations, as our operations currently use, and have historically used, hazardous materials and generate, and have historically generated, quantities of hazardous waste. Some existing environmental laws and regulations impose liability and responsibility on present and former owners, operators or users of facilities and sites for contamination at those locations without regard to causation or knowledge of contamination. Certain of our sites have an extended history of industrial use, which may expose us to liability. We are subject to regulatory oversight and investigation, remediation, and monitoring obligations at certain current and former U.S. Superfund sites, as well as third-party disposal sites, under federal laws and their state and local analogues, including the RCRA, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and CERCLA, as well as analogous foreign laws. See Item 3, Legal Proceedings, in this Form 10-K and Note 16, Contingencies, in the Notes to the Company’s Consolidated Financial Statements (included in Item 8 of this Form 10-K) for a summary of current significant environmental proceedings related to certain sites. In the event that new contamination is discovered, including at facilities we may acquire in the future, the Company may become subject to additional obligations. The costs and liabilities associated with these issues may have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

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The Company is also subject to numerous federal, state, local and foreign laws that regulate the manufacture, storage, distribution and labeling of many of the Company’s products, including some of the Company’s disinfecting, sanitizing and antimicrobial products. Some of these laws require the Company to have operating permits for the Company’s production facilities, warehouse facilities and operations. Various federal, state, local and foreign laws and regulations also require the Company to register the Company’s products and to comply with specified requirements with respect to those products, such as FIFRA, the EU Biocidal Products Regulation and Mexico’s General Law of Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental Protection. Additionally, those requirements, and enforcement of those requirements, may become more stringent in the future. The ultimate cost of compliance with any such requirements could be material.

Although it is our policy to comply with such laws and regulations, it is possible that we have not been or may not be at all times in material compliance with all of those requirements. If the Company has failed to comply or fails to comply in the future with any of these laws and regulations, including permitting and licensing requirements, it may be liable for damages and the costs of remedial actions in excess of the Company’s recorded liabilities, and may also be subject to fines, injunctions or criminal sanctions or to revocation, non-renewal or modification of the Company’s operating permits and revocation of the Company’s product registrations. Any such revocation, modification or non-renewal may require the Company to cease or limit the manufacture and sale of its products at one or more of the Company’s facilities, which may limit or prevent the Company’s ability to meet product demand or build new facilities and may have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows. Any such revocation, non-renewal or modification may also result in an event of default under the indenture for the Company’s notes or under the Company’s credit facilities, which, if not cured or waived, may result in the acceleration of all or a portion of the Company’s indebtedness.

In addition to the costs of complying with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, the Company has incurred, and may incur in the future, costs defending against environmental litigation and/or investigations brought by government agencies and private parties, including administrative proceedings. The Company is, and may be in the future, a defendant in lawsuits brought by parties alleging environmental damage, personal injury or property damage. A significant judgment or settlement against the Company, to the extent not covered by existing insurance policies, could have a material adverse effect on its business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows. Although the Company has insurance policies that may cover some of these potential losses, there is always uncertainty as to whether such insurance may be sufficient to cover such losses or available at all to the Company based on case-specific factors and the specific provisions of the Company’s insurance policies.

The potential cost to the Company relating to environmental, health and safety and product registration matters is uncertain due to factors such as the complexity and evolving nature of laws and regulations relating to the environment, health and safety and product registration, including those outside of the United States. Environmental, health and safety and product registration laws and regulations may also become more stringent over time, imposing greater compliance costs and increasing risks and penalties associated with any violation, as well as restricting or prohibiting the sale of existing or new products, which may also negatively impact the Company’s operating results. Without limiting the foregoing, these laws or regulations may also restrict or prohibit the use of non-renewable or carbon-based substances, or impose fees or penalties for the use of these substances. Accordingly, the Company may become subject to additional liabilities and increased operating costs in the future under these laws and regulations. The impact of any such changes, which are unknown at this time, may have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

Various liability claims could materially and adversely affect the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

The Company may be required to pay for losses or injuries purportedly caused by its products. The Company faces an inherent exposure to various types of claims including general liability, product liability, product recall, toxic tort and environmental, among others, if its products, or the end products that are manufactured with the Company’s products, result in property damage, injury or death. In addition, because the Company conducts business in multiple jurisdictions, the Company also faces an inherent exposure to other general claims based on its operations in those jurisdictions and the laws of those jurisdictions, including but not limited to claims arising from its relationship with employees, distributors, agents, customers and other parties with whom it has a business relationship, directly or indirectly. Many of these claims may be made against the Company even if there is no evidence of a loss from that claim, and these claims may be made by individual persons, groups of persons, or groups of plaintiffs in a class action. Defending these claims could result in significant legal expenses relating to defense costs and/or damage awards and diversion of management’s time and the Company’s resources. Any claim brought against the Company could materially and adversely affect the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

The Company’s failure to comply with the anti-corruption laws of the United States and various international jurisdictions could negatively impact its reputation and results of operations.

Doing business on a worldwide basis requires the Company to comply with anti-corruption laws and regulations imposed by governments around the world with jurisdiction over our operations, which may include the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

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and the U.K. Bribery Act 2010 (the Bribery Act), as well as the laws of the countries where the Company does business. These laws and regulations can apply to companies and individual directors, officers, employees and agents, and may restrict the Company’s operations, trade practices, investment decisions and partnering activities. Where they apply, the FCPA, the Bribery Act and similar laws prohibit, among other things, the Company and its officers, directors, employees and business partners, including joint venture partners and agents acting on the Company’s behalf, from corruptly offering, promising, authorizing or providing anything of value to “foreign officials” for the purposes of influencing official decisions or obtaining or retaining business or otherwise obtaining favorable treatment. The Bribery Act also prohibits non-governmental “commercial” bribery and accepting bribes. Part of the Company’s business may involve dealings with governments and state-owned business enterprises, the employees and representatives of which may be considered “foreign officials” for purposes of the FCPA and the Bribery Act. The Company is also subject to the jurisdiction of various governments and regulatory agencies around the world, which may bring Company personnel and agents into contact with “foreign officials” responsible for issuing or renewing permits, licenses, or approvals or for enforcing other governmental regulations. The Company’s global operations, including in countries with high levels of perceived corruption, expose it to the risk of violating, or being accused of violating, anti-corruption laws. Any failure on the part of the Company to successfully comply with these laws and regulations may expose the Company to reputational harm as well as significant sanctions, including criminal fines, imprisonment of its employees or representatives, civil penalties, disgorgement of profits, injunctions and debarment from government contracts, as well as other remedial measures. Investigations of alleged violations can be expensive and disruptive. Compliance with these laws can increase the cost of doing business globally. The Company maintains policies and procedures designed to assist the Company and its subsidiaries in complying with applicable anti-corruption laws. However, there can be no guarantee that these policies and procedures will effectively prevent violations by Company employees or representatives for which the Company may be held responsible, and any such violation could materially and adversely affect the Company’s reputation, as well as its business, financial position and results of operations and cash flows.

International Operations Risks

The Company’s results of operations may be adversely affected by international business risks, including fluctuations in currency exchange rates, legal restrictions and taxes.

The Company has substantial operations outside the United States. In the year ended December 31, 2023, the Company’s sales outside of the United States constituted approximately 44 percent of the Company’s net sales. In addition to the risks described in this Annual Report on Form 10‑K that are common to both the Company’s U.S. and non-U.S. operations, the Company faces, and will continue to face, risks related to the Company’s foreign operations, including:

variability of intellectual property laws outside the United States, which may impact enforceability and consistency of protection of intellectual property assets;
high levels of inflation;
fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, which may affect product demand and may adversely affect the profitability in U.S. dollars of products and services the Company provides in international markets where payment for the Company’s products and services is made in the local currency;
political, economic, financial and market conditions, which may be unstable;
changes in labor conditions and difficulties in staffing and managing international operations;
corruption by government officials or other third parties or other adverse government actions;
differing economic cycles and adverse economic conditions;
trade and currency restrictions, including tariffs and currency exchange controls imposed by the United States and foreign countries;
changes in foreign laws and tax rates or U.S. laws and tax rates with respect to foreign income, which may unexpectedly increase the rate at which the Company’s income is taxed, impose new and additional taxes on remittances, repatriation or other payments by the Company’s subsidiaries, or cause the loss of previously recorded tax benefits;
greater difficulty enforcing contracts and collecting accounts receivable;
enforceability and compliance with U.S. and foreign laws affecting operations outside of the United States, including the FCPA (and foreign equivalents), export controls and regulations administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control; and
evolving laws and regulations over chemicals and chemical production and transportation that could limit the Company’s ability to sell products in certain markets (for example, the EU REACH regulation) and changing laws related to or the

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modification or non-renewal of operating permits and licenses that could result in material costs relating to regulatory compliance, liabilities, litigation proceedings, or other impacts, such as restrictions or prohibitions on our products.

The impacts of any or all of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

The international scope of the Company’s operations and corporate structure may expose the Company to potentially adverse tax consequences.

The Company is subject to taxation in and to the tax laws and regulations of multiple jurisdictions as a result of the international scope of its operations and corporate structure. The Company is also subject to intercompany pricing laws, including those relating to the flow of funds between its entities pursuant to, for example, purchase agreements, licensing agreements or other arrangements. Adverse developments in these laws or regulations, or any change in position regarding the application, administration or interpretation of these laws or regulations in any applicable jurisdiction could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows. In addition, the tax authorities in any applicable jurisdiction may disagree with the positions the Company has taken or intends to take regarding the tax treatment or characterization of any of the Company’s transactions, including the tax treatment or characterization of the Company’s indebtedness. The Company may also make certain tax elections, such as bonus depreciation, that could prevent the Company from fully benefitting from tax deductions such as the global intangible low-taxed income deduction or utilizing tax credits such as foreign tax credits. If any applicable tax authorities were to successfully challenge the tax treatment or characterization of any of the Company’s transactions, or the Company makes tax elections that impact other tax benefits, the potential resulting disallowance of deductions, imposition of withholding taxes on internal deemed transfers or other consequences could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates could affect Company financial results.

The Company is also exposed to fluctuations in foreign exchange rates. The Company’s results of operations are reported in U.S. dollars. However, outside the United Sates, the Company’s sales and costs are denominated in a variety of currencies including the European euro, British pound, Canadian dollar, Mexican peso, Colombian peso, Philippine peso, Brazilian real, Polish zloty, and Chinese RMB. The Company translates its local currency financial results into U.S. dollars based on average exchange rates prevailing during the reporting period or the exchange rate at the end of that period. During times of a strengthening U.S. dollar, the Company’s reported international sales and earnings may be reduced because the local currency may translate into fewer U.S. dollars. Fluctuations in exchange rates may materially and adversely affect the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

In all jurisdictions in which the Company operates, the Company is also subject to laws and regulations that govern foreign investment, foreign trade and currency exchange transactions. These laws and regulations may limit the Company’s ability to repatriate cash as dividends or otherwise to the United States or to efficiently allocate cash to support strategic initiatives, and may limit the Company’s ability to convert foreign currency cash flows into U.S. dollars. A weakening of the currencies in which the Company generates sales relative to the foreign currencies in which the Company’s costs are denominated may lower the Company’s operating profits and cash flows.

Financial Risks

The Company could be adversely affected by downgrades to its credit ratings or disruptions in its ability to access well-functioning credit markets.

Historically, the Company has relied on the debt capital markets to fund portions of its capital investments and other corporate initiatives, as well as access to bank credit facilities as part of its overall financing strategy, including working capital management strategy. The Company’s continued access to these markets, and the terms of such access, depend on multiple factors including the condition of debt capital markets, the Company’s operating performance, and its credit ratings. These ratings are based on a number of factors, which include rating agencies’ assessment of the Company’s financial strength and outlook. There can be no assurance that any particular rating assigned to the Company will remain in effect for any given period of time or that a rating will not be changed or withdrawn by a rating agency, if in that rating agency’s judgment, future circumstances relating to the basis of the rating so warrant. Incurrence of additional debt by the Company could adversely affect its credit ratings. The Company depends on banks and other financial institutions to provide credit to its business and perform under the Company’s agreements with them. Defaults by one or more of these counterparties on their obligations to the Company could materially and adversely affect it. Any downgrade of the Company’s credit ratings could materially and adversely affect its cost of funds, liquidity, competitive position and access to credit markets and increase the cost of and counterparty risks associated with existing facilities, which could materially and adversely affect the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

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The Company has a significant amount of indebtedness and may incur additional indebtedness, or need to refinance existing indebtedness, in the future, which may adversely affect the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

The Company has a significant amount of indebtedness and may incur additional indebtedness in the future. As of December 31, 2023, the Company had $359.8 million of debt on its balance sheet consisting of senior unsecured notes with maturities ranging from 2024 until 2032. In addition, the Company is party to a credit agreement providing for a $350.0 million revolving credit facility and a $100.0 million delayed-draw term loan credit facility; as of December 31, 2023, the Company had $283.0 million outstanding borrowings and $10.9 million outstanding letters of credit under the credit agreement with $151.1 million remaining available for future borrowings.

Certain of the Company’s foreign subsidiaries periodically maintain bank term loans and short-term bank lines of credit in their respective countries to meet working capital requirements as well as to fund capital expenditure programs and acquisitions. As of December 31, 2023, the Company’s foreign subsidiaries had $11.3 million of outstanding debt.

The Company’s current indebtedness and any additional indebtedness incurred in the future may materially and adversely affect its business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows. For example, such indebtedness could:

require the Company to dedicate a substantial portion of cash flow from operations to pay principal and interest on the Company’s debt, which would reduce funds available to fund future working capital, capital expenditures and other general operating requirements;
limit the Company’s ability to borrow funds that may be needed to operate and expand its business;
limit the Company’s flexibility in planning for or reacting to changes in the Company’s business and the industries in which the Company operates;
increase the Company’s vulnerability to general adverse economic and industry conditions or a downturn in the Company’s business; and
place the Company at a competitive disadvantage compared to its competitors that have less debt.

The Company’s debt agreements contain customary covenants and other provisions that, among other things, require maintenance of certain financial ratios and place limitations on additional debt, investments and payment of dividends. The Company’s ability to comply with these provisions may be affected by events beyond our control. Failure to comply with these provisions could require repayment of outstanding debt or lead to a debt restructuring that could materially and adversely affect the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

In addition, an increase in interest rates could limit the Company’s ability to incur additional debt to fund the Company’s strategic plans or to refinance maturing debt without incurring significant additional costs and could make borrowings under the Company’s revolving credit facility or other floating rate debt materially more expensive. Further, any future disruptions in the credit and financial markets may reduce the availability of debt financing or refinancing alternatives and increase the costs associated with such financing activities. If the Company is unable to secure financing when needed on satisfactory terms, or at all, its business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows may be materially and adversely affected.

General Risks

The Company relies extensively on information technology (IT) systems to conduct its business. Interruption of, damage to or compromise of the Company’s IT systems and failure to maintain the integrity of customer, colleague or Company data could harm the Company’s reputation and have an adverse effect on the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

The Company relies on IT systems in its operations, including production, supply chain, research and development, finance, human resource and regulatory functions. The Company’s ability to effectively manage its business depends on the security, reliability and adequacy of these systems. IT system failures due to events including but not limited to network disruptions, programming errors, computer viruses and security breaches (e.g., cyber-attacks) could impact production activities, impede shipment of products, cause delays or cancellations of customer orders, or hamper the processing of transactions or reporting of financial results. These or similar occurrences, whether accidental or intentional, could result in theft, unauthorized use or publication of our intellectual property or confidential business information of our employees, customers, suppliers or other third parties, which could harm our reputation and competitive position, reduce the value of our investments in research and development and other strategic initiatives, result in a loss of

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business, as well as remedial and other costs, fines, investigations, enforcement actions or lawsuits or otherwise materially and adversely affect our business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

During the normal course of business, we have experienced and expect to continue to experience attempts to compromise our information and communications technology and related systems. Despite the security measures the Company has in place, the Company’s customers’ and suppliers’ information and operational technology systems could be vulnerable to cyber-threats such as computer viruses or other malicious codes, security breaches, unauthorized access, phishing attacks and other disruptions from system failures, including network outages, unintentional or malicious actions of employees or contractors or cyber-attacks by hackers, criminal groups, nation-states and nation-state-sponsored organizations. In addition, if a material, actual or perceived breach of our security occurs, the public perception of the effectiveness of our security measures could be harmed and we could lose customers or suppliers. Any such material disruptions or breaches of security could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

The Company continues to develop and enhance controls and security measures designed to protect against the risk of theft, loss or fraudulent or unlawful use of customer, supplier, third party, employee or Company data, and it maintains an ongoing process to re-evaluate the adequacy of its controls and measures. The Company may also be required to expend additional resources to continue to enhance its information privacy and security measures and/or to investigate and remediate any information security vulnerabilities. The Company maintains what it believes to be adequate and collectible insurance in the event of the theft, loss, fraudulent or unlawful use of customer, supplier, third party, employee or Company data, but any such occurrences could result in costs that may not be covered or may be in excess of any available insurance that the Company may have procured. While the Company has a comprehensive program in place for continuously reviewing, maintaining, testing and upgrading its IT systems and security, there can be no assurance that such efforts will prevent breakdowns of or breaches in Company IT systems that could materially and adversely affect the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

The Company’s success depends on its executive management and other key personnel.

The Company’s future success depends to a significant degree on the skills, experience and efforts of its executive management and other key personnel and their ability to provide the Company with uninterrupted leadership and direction. The availability of highly qualified talent is limited and the competition for talent is robust; as a result, the Company may not be able to recruit and retain the personnel it needs if it were to lose an existing member of executive management or other key personnel. The Company’s future success will depend on its ability to have adequate succession plans in place and to attract, retain and develop qualified personnel. A failure to efficiently replace members of executive management and other key personnel and to attract, retain and develop new qualified personnel could have a material and adverse effect on the Company’s business financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments

None

Item 1C. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity Risk Management

We assess, identify and manage material risks from cybersecurity threats through various policies, procedures and processes, including through our Enterprise Risk Management program (ERM), our information security policies and standards, workforce cybersecurity trainings and third-party assessments and programs.

The Company uses ERM principles to help identify, prevent, and mitigate potential risks, including cybersecurity and related risks. We base our ERM program on the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) framework. Individuals representing Stepan’s global locations and functions contribute to our risk assessments at least annually through surveys and in-person interviews. Members are polled quarterly to spot emerging risks and trends. The Company’s Vice President, Chief Compliance and Risk Officer leads the ERM program and reports regularly to the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors on ERM matters.

The Company maintains cybersecurity programs according to the set of guidelines developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology through the Cybersecurity Framework. The Company maintains a set of IT Security Standards that provides a framework of layered security protection. In addition, the Company maintains and communicates to its workforce a Use of Information Technology Policy to support the understanding of and commitment to safely using IT assets. This knowledge can help prevent accidental or intentional misuse of Company IT resources, which can compromise the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of

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sensitive data and systems. The Company requires cybersecurity training to raise awareness and educate employees about cybersecurity risks. The Company updates its training program at least annually.

The Company engages a variety of IT assessors to evaluate and test the Company’s cybersecurity and cybersecurity controls. Additionally, the Company engages IT consultants to provide tabletop exercises, ransomware simulations, cyber policy and standards development, cybersecurity, data security, and IT training events, cybersecurity and data security testing and monitoring, and cybersecurity implementation projects.

Although the Company has put in place the cybersecurity policies, procedures and processes described above, the Company remains exposed to cybersecurity attacks and incidents and misuse or manipulation of any of its IT systems, which could have a material adverse effect on its business strategy, results of operations or financial condition. As of the filing of this Form 10-K, we are not aware of any attacks, incidents, misuse or manipulation that have occurred since the beginning of 2023 that have materially affected, or are reasonably likely to materially affect, us, including our business strategy, results of operations or financial condition. For risks associated with cybersecurity threats, see the risk factor “The Company relies extensively on information technology (IT) systems to conduct its business. Interruption of, damage to or compromise of the Company’s IT systems and failure to maintain the integrity of customer, colleague or Company data could harm the Company’s reputation and have an adverse effect on the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.” included in “Part I—Item 1A. Risk Factors” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Cybersecurity Governance

The Audit Committee of the Company’s Board of Directors (the Audit Committee) oversees the Company’s cybersecurity risk management. The Audit Committee receives quarterly reports on cybersecurity risks and risk management from the Company’s Vice President of Information Technology. The Company’s Vice President of Information Technology, who reports to the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, is in charge of assessing and managing our risks related to cybersecurity and oversees a team of full-time cybersecurity specialist employees. Utilizing the processes noted above, this team remains informed about and monitors the prevention, detection, mitigation and remediation of cybersecurity incidents. The Company’s Vice President of Information Technology has served in a variety of IT and cybersecurity roles for twenty-five years, including serving in IT infrastructure, cybersecurity, enterprise application, and project management office leadership roles for both public and privately held companies in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing industries. He has earned the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Service Master Certification. The Company’s Cybersecurity Manager, who reports to the Vice President of Information Technology, has earned multiple cybersecurity industry certifications and has over fifteen years of IT and cybersecurity experience. The Company’s cybersecurity program and cybersecurity practices are reviewed by internal and external auditors. The Company’s cybersecurity team provides periodic reports to such auditors.

Item 2. Properties

The following are the Company’s principal physical properties. Unless otherwise noted, the listed properties are owned by the Company. Management believes that the facilities are suitable and adequate for the Company’s current operations.

 

 

Name of Facility

Location

Site Size

Segment

1.

Millsdale

Elwood, Illinois

492 acres

Surfactants/Polymers

2.

Winder

Winder,

Georgia

202 acres

Surfactants

3.

Maywood

Maywood,

New Jersey

19 acres

Surfactants /

Specialty Products

4.

Pasadena

Pasadena, Texas

51 acres

Surfactants

5.

Stepan France

Voreppe, France

20 acres

Surfactants

6.

Stepan Ecatepec

Ecatepec, Mexico

34 acres

Surfactants

7.

Stepan China

Nanjing, China (Nanjing Chemical Industrial Park)

13 acres (right of use arrangement)

Polymers

8.

Stepan Brazil

Vespasiano, Minas Gerais, Brazil

27 acres

Surfactants

9.

Global Technology Center

Northfield,

Illinois

8 acres

N/A

10.

Company Headquarters

Northbrook, Illinois

1.72 acres (leased)

N/A

 

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There are a variety of legal proceedings pending or threatened against the Company that occur in the normal course of the Company’s business, the majority of which relate to environmental assessment, protection and remediation matters. Some of these proceedings may result in fines, penalties, judgments or costs being assessed against the Company at some future time. The Company’s operations are subject to extensive local, state and federal regulations, including the U.S. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) and the Superfund amendments of 1986 (Superfund) as well as comparable regulations applicable to the Company’s foreign locations. Over the years, the Company has received requests for information related to or has been named by government authorities as a potentially responsible party at a number of sites where cleanup costs have been or may be incurred by the Company under CERCLA and similar state statutes. In addition, the Company is from time to time involved in routine legal proceedings incidental to the conduct of its business, including personal injury, property damage, tax, trade and labor matters. The Company believes that it has made adequate provisions for the costs it is likely to incur with respect to these claims. While the Company is unable to predict the outcome of these matters, it does not believe, based upon current available facts, that the ultimate resolution of any of these matters will have a material effect on its overall financial position. The Company’s material legal proceedings are described below:

Maywood, New Jersey Site

The Company’s property in Maywood, New Jersey, property formerly owned by the Company adjacent to its current property and other nearby properties (collectively, the Maywood site) were listed on the National Priorities List in September 1993 pursuant to the provisions of CERCLA because of alleged chemical and radiological contamination. Pursuant to (i) a September 21, 1987 Administrative Order on Consent entered into between the USEPA and the Company for property formerly owned by the Company at the Maywood site and (ii) the issuance of an order on May 2, 1991, by the USEPA to the Company for property currently owned by the Company at the Maywood site, the Company has completed various Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Studies of soils and groundwater at the Maywood site. On September 23, 2014, USEPA issued its Record of Decision for chemically-contaminated soil at the Maywood site; the Record of Decision was amended pursuant to an Explanation of Significant Differences in January 2021. The USEPA has not yet issued a Record of Decision for chemically-contaminated groundwater at the Maywood site. Based on the most current information available, the Company believes its recorded liability is reasonable having considered the range of estimated costs of remediation for the Maywood site. The estimate of the cost of remediation for the Maywood site could change again as the Company continues to hold discussions with the USEPA, as the remedial action is finalized, if a groundwater Record of Decision is issued or if other potentially responsible parties are identified. The ultimate amount for which the Company is liable could differ materially from the Company’s current recorded liability.

D’Imperio Property Site

During the mid-1970’s, Jerome Lightman and the Lightman Drum Company disposed of hazardous substances generated by the Company at several sites in New Jersey, including the D’Imperio Property Superfund Site (the D’Imperio site). The Company was named as a potentially responsible party in an October 2, 1998 lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey that involved the D’Imperio site. Based on current information, the Company believes that its recorded liability is reasonable having considered the range of estimated cost of remediation for the D’Imperio site. Depending on the ultimate cost of the remediation at this site, the amount for which the Company is liable could differ materially from the Company’s current recorded liability.

Wilmington Site

Property formerly owned and operated by the Company in Wilmington, Massachusetts was listed on the National Priorities List in 2006. The Company, together with the current site owner and another potentially responsible party, entered into an Administrative Order on Consent in July 2007 to undertake a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study. A Record of Decision was issued by the USEPA on March 30, 2021. The Company and three other potentially responsible parties have entered into a consent decree, dated September 28, 2023, with USEPA and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that requires the remedial design and remedial action of the remedy selected in the Record of Decision for two operable units and an interim remedy for another operable unit. Remediation at this site is being managed by its current owner, to whom the Company sold the property in 1980. The Company is contractually obligated to contribute up to five percent of the environmental response costs incurred by the current owner with no limitation on the ultimate amount of contributions. The Company has paid the current owner $3.6 million for the Company’s portion of environmental response costs at the Wilmington site through December 31, 2023. The Company has recorded a liability for its portion of the estimated remediation costs for the site. Depending on the ultimate cost of the remediation at this site, the amount for which the Company is liable could differ materially from the current recorded liability. On July 29, 2022, the Company and other potentially responsible parties were notified of a possible joint claim by federal and state trustees for alleged natural resource damages related to the Wilmington site. The alleged damages may result in a range of possible penalties and the Company believes it is probable that it will have exposure for this claim; however, at this stage, the Company is unable to predict the ultimate outcome of this claim, the allocation of costs among

18


 

the potentially responsible parties or what impact, if any, the outcome might have on the Company’s financial position, results of operations or cash flows.

Other U.S. Sites

Through the regular environmental monitoring of its plant production sites, the Company discovered levels of chemical contamination that were above thresholds allowed by law at its Elwood, Illinois (Millsdale) and Fieldsboro, New Jersey plants. The Company voluntarily reported its results to the applicable state environmental agencies. As a result, the Company is required to perform self-remediation of the affected areas. Based on current information, the Company believes that its recorded liability for the remediation of the affected areas is appropriate based on an estimate of expected costs. However, actual costs could differ materially from the current recorded liability.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures

Not Applicable.

19


 

PART II

 

 

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

(a)
The Company’s common stock is listed and traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SCL.

As of January 31, 2024, there were 1,877 holders of record of the Company’s common stock. This number does not include beneficial owners whose shares are held by banks, brokers and other institutions holding shares of the Company’s common stock on behalf of their customers.

(b)
Below is a summary by month of shares purchases by the Company during the fourth quarter of 2023:

Period

 

Total Number of
Shares Purchased

 

 

Average Price
Paid per Share

 

 

Total Number of Shares
Purchased as Part of
Publicly Announced
Plans or Programs
(1)

 

 

Approximate Dollar Value of Shares That May Yet be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs (1)

 

October

 

 

 

 

$

 

 

 

 

 

$

125,050,905

 

November

 

 

 

 

$

 

 

 

 

 

$

125,050,905

 

December

 

 

427

 

(2)

$

92.45

 

 

 

 

 

$

125,050,905

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

 

427

 

 

$

92.45

 

 

 

 

 

$

125,050,905

 

 

(1)
On October 20, 2021, the Company announced that its Board of Directors had authorized the Company to repurchase up to $150,000,000 of its outstanding common stock. Under this program, which does not have an expiration date, repurchases may be made from time to time through open market transactions, privately negotiated transactions or a combination of the foregoing, subject to applicable laws.
(2)
Consists of 418 shares and 9 shares of Company common stock tendered by employees to settle statutory withholding taxes related to the exercise of SARs and the distribution of restricted stock units, respectively.

 

20


 

(c)
Stock Performance Graph

The following stock performance graph compares the yearly change since December 31, 2018, in cumulative return on the common stock of the Company on a dividend reinvested basis to the Dow Jones Chemical Industry Index and the Russell 2000 Index. The Dow Jones Chemical Industry Index is a market-capitalization weighted grouping of 35 chemical companies, including major manufacturers of both basic and specialty products. The Company is not included in the Dow Jones Chemical Industry Index. The Russell 2000 Index is a market-capitalization weighted grouping of 2,000 small to medium sized companies in a broad range of industries. The Company has been included in the Russell 2000 Index since 1992. The graph assumes $100 was invested on December 31, 2018 and shows the cumulative total return as of each December 31 thereafter.

img94342223_0.jpg 

Item 6. (Removed and Reserved)

21


 

Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

The following is management’s discussion and analysis (MD&A) of certain significant factors that have affected the Company’s financial condition and results of operations during the annual periods included in the accompanying consolidated financial statements.

Presentation of Information

The discussion that follows includes a comparison of the Company’s results of operations and liquidity and capital resources for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2022 and 2023. For a discussion of changes from the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021 to the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022, refer to “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Part II, Item 7 of the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022 (filed February 28, 2023).

Overview

The Company produces and sells intermediate chemicals that are used in a wide variety of applications worldwide. The overall business is comprised of three reportable segments:

Surfactants - Surfactants, which accounted for 69 percent of the Company’s consolidated net sales in 2023, are principal ingredients in consumer and industrial cleaning and disinfection products such as detergents for washing clothes, dishes, carpets, floors and walls, as well as shampoos and body washes. Other applications include fabric softeners, germicidal quaternary compounds, disinfectants, lubricating ingredients, emulsifiers for spreading agricultural products and industrial applications such as latex systems, plastics and composites. Surfactants are manufactured at five sites in the United States, two European sites (United Kingdom and France), five Latin American sites (one site in Colombia and two sites in each of Brazil and Mexico) and two Asian sites (Philippines and Singapore). Recent significant events include:

On September 23, 2022, the Company completed the purchase of PerformanX Specialty Chemicals, LLC’s surfactant business and associated assets. Included in the transaction were intellectual property, customer relationships, inventory and working capital. This acquisition enhanced the Company’s specialty alkoxylates portfolio and provides market diversification opportunities. This acquisition is expected to deliver additional baseload volumes for the Company’s Pasadena, Texas alkoxylation facility that is expected to start up in the third quarter of 2024. See Note 20, Acquisitions, of the notes to the Company’s consolidated financial statements (included in Item 8 of this Form 10-K) for additional details.
In February 2021, the Company completed the purchase of a fermentation plant, located in Lake Providence, Louisiana. The Company believes this plant complements the rhamnolipid-based bio-surfactant technology the Company acquired from Logos Technologies in March 2020. Fermentation is a new platform technology for the Company and the Company is focusing efforts to further develop, integrate, produce and commercialize these unique surfactants moving forward. Bio-surfactants, produced via fermentation, are attractive due to their biodegradability, low toxicity, and in some cases, unique antimicrobial properties. These bio-surfactants offer synergies in several strategic end use markets including oilfield, agriculture, personal care and household, industrial and institutional cleaning. The acquisition of this industrial scale fermentation plant is a step in the Company’s bio-surfactant commercialization efforts. See Note 20, Acquisitions, of the notes to the Company’s consolidated financial statements (included in Item 8 of this Form 10-K) for additional details.

Polymers - Polymers, which accounted for 28 percent of consolidated net sales in 2023, include polyurethane polyols, polyester resins and phthalic anhydride. Polyurethane polyols are used in the manufacture of rigid foam for thermal insulation in the construction industry and are also a base raw material for coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers (collectively, CASE products). Powdered polyester resins are used in coating applications. CASE and powdered polyester resins are collectively referred to as specialty polyols. Phthalic anhydride is used in unsaturated polyester resins, alkyd resins and plasticizers for applications in construction materials and components of automotive, boating and other consumer products. In addition, the Company uses phthalic anhydride internally in the production of polyols. In the United States, polyurethane polyols are manufactured at the Company’s Elwood, Illinois (Millsdale) and Wilmington, North Carolina sites. Phthalic anhydride is manufactured at the Company’s Elwood, Illinois (Millsdale) site and specialty polyols are manufactured at the Company’s Columbus, Georgia, site. In Europe, polyurethane polyols are manufactured at the Company’s plants in Germany and the Netherlands and specialty polyols are manufactured at the Company’s Poland site. In Asia, polyurethane polyols and specialty polyols are manufactured at the Company’s Nanjing, China, plant. Recent significant events include:

In January 2021, the Company completed the purchase of INVISTA’s aromatic polyester polyol business and associated assets. Included in the transaction were two manufacturing sites, one in Wilmington, North Carolina and the other in Vlissingen, Netherlands along with intellectual property, customer relationships, inventory and working capital. This acquisition expanded the Company’s manufacturing capabilities in both the United States and Europe and enhanced the Company’s business continuity capabilities for the polymer market. The Company believes that available spare capacity, combined with

22


 

debottlenecking opportunities in both plants, allows Stepan to support future market growth in a capital efficient way. See Note 20, Acquisitions, of the notes to the Company’s consolidated financial statements (included in Item 8 of this Form 10-K) for additional details.

Specialty Products – Specialty products, which accounted for three percent of consolidated net sales in 2023, include flavors, emulsifiers and solubilizers used in food, flavoring, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical applications. Specialty products are primarily manufactured at the Company’s Maywood, New Jersey, site.

Deferred Compensation Plans

The accounting for the Company’s deferred compensation plans can cause period-to-period fluctuations in Company income and expenses. Compensation expense is recognized when the value of Company common stock and mutual fund investment assets held for the plans increase, and compensation income is recognized when the value of Company common stock and mutual fund investment assets decline. The pretax effect of all deferred compensation-related activities (including realized and unrealized gains and losses on the mutual fund assets held to fund deferred compensation obligations) and the income statement line items in which the effects of the activities were recorded are displayed in the following tables:

 

 

 

Income (Expense)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Year
Ended December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

(In millions)

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

Change

 

 

Deferred Compensation (Administrative expenses)

 

$

(4.4

)

 

$

9.4

 

 

$

(13.8

)

(1)

Investment Income (Other, net)

 

 

0.8

 

 

 

1.7

 

 

 

(0.9

)

 

Realized/Unrealized Gains (Losses) on Investments
   (Other, net)

 

 

4.3

 

 

 

(8.0

)

 

 

12.3

 

 

Pretax Income Effect

 

$

0.7

 

 

$

3.1

 

 

$

(2.4

)

 

 

 

 

Income (Expense)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Year
Ended December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

(In millions)

 

2022

 

 

2021

 

 

Change

 

 

Deferred Compensation (Administrative expenses)

 

$

9.4

 

 

$

(6.9

)

 

$

16.3

 

(1)

Investment Income (Other, net)

 

 

1.7

 

 

 

2.8

 

 

 

(1.1

)

 

Realized/Unrealized Gains on Investments
   (Other, net)

 

 

(8.0

)

 

 

2.1

 

 

 

(10.1

)

 

Pretax Income Effect

 

$

3.1

 

 

$

(2.0

)

 

$

5.1

 

 

(1)
See the Segment Results – Corporate Expenses sections of this MD&A for details regarding the period-over-period changes in deferred compensation.

Below are the year-end Company common stock market prices used in the computation of deferred compensation income and expense:

 

 

 

December 31

 

 

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

2021

 

 

2020

 

Company Stock Price

 

$

94.55

 

 

$

106.46

 

 

$

124.29

 

 

$

119.32

 

 

23


 

Effects of Foreign Currency Translation

The Company’s foreign subsidiaries transact business and report financial results in their respective local currencies. As a result, foreign subsidiary income statements are translated into U.S. dollars at average foreign exchange rates appropriate for the reporting period. Because foreign exchange rates fluctuate against the U.S. dollar over time, foreign currency translation affects year-over-year comparisons of financial statement items (i.e., because foreign exchange rates fluctuate, similar year-over-year local currency results for a foreign subsidiary may translate into different U.S. dollar results). The following tables present the effects that foreign currency translation had on the year-over-year changes in consolidated net sales and various income statement line items for 2023 compared to 2022 and 2022 compared to 2021:

 

 

 

For the Year
Ended December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

Increase Due
to Foreign

 

(In millions)

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

Decrease

 

 

Currency
Translation

 

Net Sales

 

$

2,325.8

 

 

$

2,773.3

 

 

$

(447.5

)

 

$

27.1

 

Gross Profit

 

 

277.6

 

 

 

427.1

 

 

 

(149.5

)

 

 

2.1

 

Operating Income

 

 

58.6

 

 

 

207.3

 

 

 

(148.7

)

 

 

0.6

 

Pretax Income

 

 

48.4

 

 

 

188.7

 

 

 

(140.3

)

 

 

0.2

 

 

 

 

For the Year
Ended December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

Decrease Due
to Foreign

 

(In millions)

 

2022

 

 

2021

 

 

Increase

 

 

Currency
Translation

 

Net Sales

 

$

2,773.3

 

 

$

2,346.0

 

 

$

427.3

 

 

$

(95.4

)

Gross Profit

 

 

427.1

 

 

 

395.8

 

 

 

31.3

 

 

 

(11.1

)

Operating Income

 

 

207.3

 

 

 

170.8

 

 

 

36.5

 

 

 

(7.4

)

Pretax Income

 

 

188.7

 

 

 

172.5

 

 

 

16.2

 

 

 

(7.2

)

Results of Operations

2023 Compared with 2022

Summary

Net income attributable to the Company in 2023 decreased 73 percent to $40.2 million, or $1.75 per diluted share, from $147.2 million, or $6.38 per diluted share in 2022. Adjusted net income was $50.7 million, or $2.21 per diluted share in 2023 versus $153.5 million, or $6.65 per diluted share in 2022 (see the “Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Adjusted Net Income and Diluted Earnings per Share” section of this MD&A for a reconciliation of reported net income attributable to the Company and reported earnings per diluted share to non-GAAP adjusted net income and adjusted earnings per diluted share). Below is a summary discussion of the major factors leading to the year-over-year changes in net sales, expenses and income in 2023 compared to 2022. A detailed discussion of segment operating performance for 2023, compared to 2022, follows the summary.

Consolidated net sales decreased $447.5 million, or 16 percent, between years. Consolidated sales volume decreased 11 percent and negatively impacted the year-over-year change in net sales by $292.2 million. Sales volume in the Surfactant, Polymer and Specialty Products segments decreased nine, 15 and 19 percent, respectively. Lower average selling prices negatively impacted the year-over-year change in net sales by $182.4 million. Foreign currency translation favorably impacted the year-over-year change in net sales by $27.1 million, primarily due to a weaker U.S. dollar against the European euro, Mexican peso, Brazilian real and Polish zloty.

Operating income in 2023 decreased $148.7 million, or 72 percent, versus operating income in 2022. Surfactant, Polymer and Specialty Products operating income decreased $90.3 million, $22.1 million, and $18.4 million, respectively, year-over-year. Corporate expenses, including deferred compensation, business restructuring, and asset/goodwill/other intangibles impairment charges increased $17.8 million year-over-year. Most of this increase was attributable to $13.8 million of higher deferred compensation expense and a $12.7 million increase in business restructuring and asset/goodwill/other intangibles impairment expenses. Partially offsetting these increases was a $10.5 million reduction in environmental remediation reserve expenses year over year. Foreign currency translation had a $0.6 million positive impact on operating income year-over-year.

24


 

Operating expenses (including deferred compensation, business restructuring and asset/goodwill/other intangibles impairments) decreased $0.7 million, or less than one percent, year-over-year. Changes in the individual income statement line items that comprise the Company’s operating expenses were as follows:

Selling expenses decreased $10.7 million, or 18 percent, between years primarily due to lower salaries and incentive-based compensation expenses.
Administrative expenses decreased $9.0 million, or nine percent, year-over-year primarily due to lower environmental remediation reserve ($10.5 million) and incentive-based compensation expenses, partially offset by higher salaries. The higher environmental reserve expenses in 2022 primarily reflected revised remediation cost estimates for the Company’s Maywood, New Jersey site due to USEPA work plan approvals and the receipt of third-party contractor bids during the third quarter of 2022.
Research, development and technical service (R&D) expenses decreased $7.6 million, or 11 percent, year-over-year primarily due to lower incentive-based compensation expenses.
Deferred compensation expense increased $13.8 million, year-over-year, primarily due to an increase in the market values of mutual fund investment assets held for the plans in 2023 versus a decrease in 2022. An $11.91 per share decrease in the market price of Company common stock during 2023 compared to a $17.83 per share decrease in 2022 also contributed to the year-over-year change. See the Overview and Segment Results - Corporate Expenses sections of this MD&A for further details.
Business restructuring and asset impairment expenses were $12.0 million in 2023 versus $0.3 million in 2022. This $11.7 million year-over-year increase was primarily attributable to a $5.5 million restructuring reserve, recorded in the third quarter of 2023, associated with the Company’s voluntary early retirement offering to eligible employees and $2.9 million of restructuring expense, associated with workforce productivity measures, recognized in the fourth quarter of 2023. The Company also recognized $3.2 million of asset impairment charges in the fourth quarter of 2023. These asset impairment charges primarily relate to assets that are no longer in use and to the write-off of engineering costs associated with projects that the Company no longer deems viable. In addition, the Company recorded $0.4 million and $0.3 million of decommissioning costs associated with the Company’s Canadian plant closure during 2023 and 2022, respectively. See Note 22, Business Restructuring, Assets Impairment and Asset Disposition, of the notes to the Company’s consolidated financial statements (included in Item 8 of this Form 10-K) for additional details.
Goodwill and other intangibles impairment expense was $2.0 million in 2023 versus $1.0 million in 2022. In 2023, the Company recognized $1.0 million of goodwill impairment expense related to its Colombia reporting unit and $1.0 million of goodwill and other intangibles impairment expense related to its Lipid Nutrition reporting unit. In 2022, the Company recognized $1.0 million of goodwill impairment expense related solely to its Philippines reporting unit. See Note 4, Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets, of the notes to the Company’s consolidated financial statements (included in Item 8 of this Form 10-K) for additional details.

Net interest expense in 2023 increased $2.3 million, or 23 percent, versus the prior year. This increase was primarily attributable to higher outstanding debt balances in 2023 versus 2022 and higher interest rates on the Company’s revolving credit facility in 2023 versus 2022.

Other, net was $1.9 million of income in 2023 versus $8.8 million of expense in 2022. The Company recognized $5.2 million of investment gains (including realized and unrealized gains and losses) for the Company’s deferred compensation and supplemental defined contribution mutual fund assets in 2023 compared to $6.4 million of losses in 2022. In addition, the Company recognized $3.7 million of foreign exchange losses in 2023 versus $2.9 million of foreign exchange losses in 2022. The Company also recognized $0.4 million of net periodic pension and other retirement obligations income in 2023 versus $0.5 million of income in 2022.

The Company’s effective tax rate was 16.9 percent in 2023 versus 22.0 percent in 2022. This decrease was primarily attributable to more favorable tax benefits derived from stock-based compensation awards exercised or distributed in 2023 and the impact of certain recurring tax benefits (e.g., the research and development income tax credit), the amounts of which did not change materially year-over-year, having a more favorable impact on the tax rate due to the lower pre-tax income in 2023 versus in 2022. See Note 9, Income Taxes, of the notes to the Company’s consolidated financial statements (included in Item 8 of this Form 10-K) for a reconciliation of the statutory U.S. federal income tax rate to the effective tax rate.

25


 

Segment Results

 

(In thousands)

 

For the Year
Ended December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net Sales

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

Decrease

 

 

Percent
Change

 

Surfactants

 

$

1,602,819

 

 

$

1,882,745

 

 

$

(279,926

)

 

 

-15

 

Polymers

 

 

642,471

 

 

 

789,080

 

 

 

(146,609

)

 

 

-19

 

Specialty Products

 

 

80,478

 

 

 

101,445

 

 

 

(20,967

)

 

 

-21

 

Total Net Sales

 

$

2,325,768

 

 

$

2,773,270

 

 

$

(447,502

)

 

 

-16

 

 

(In thousands)

 

For the Year
Ended December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating Income

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

Increase
(Decrease)

 

 

Percent
Change

 

Surfactants

 

$

72,399

 

 

$

162,746

 

 

$

(90,347

)

 

 

-56

 

Polymers

 

 

60,770

 

 

 

82,897

 

 

 

(22,127

)

 

 

-27

 

Specialty Products

 

 

11,476

 

 

 

29,895

 

 

 

(18,419

)

 

 

-62

 

Segment Operating Income

 

$

144,645

 

 

$

275,538

 

 

$

(130,893

)

 

 

-48

 

Corporate Expenses, Excluding Deferred Compensation,
    Business Restructuring and Asset Impairment and
    Goodwill and Other Intangibles impairment

 

 

67,655

 

 

 

77,287

 

 

 

(9,632

)

 

 

-12

 

Deferred Compensation Expense (Income)

 

 

4,371

 

 

 

(9,393

)

 

 

13,764

 

 

 

-147

 

Business Restructuring and Asset Impairment and
    Goodwill and Other Intangibles Impairment

 

 

14,006

 

 

 

308

 

 

 

13,698

 

 

NM

 

Total Operating Income

 

$

58,613

 

 

$

207,336

 

 

$

(148,723

)

 

 

-72

 

Surfactants

Surfactant net sales in 2023 decreased $280.0 million, or 15 percent, versus the prior year. Sales volume declined nine percent and negatively impacted the change in net sales by $169.8 million. The lower sales volume primarily reflects a slow down in demand across most end use markets and significant customer and channel inventory destocking. Lower average selling prices negatively impacted the change in net sales by $130.4 million. The lower average selling prices were primarily due to the pass-through of lower raw material costs, less favorable product mix and increased competitive pressure within certain end-use markets. Foreign currency translation had a $20.2 million favorable impact on the year-over-year change in net sales. A year-over-year comparison of net sales by region follows:

 

 

 

For the Year
Ended December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(In thousands)

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

Decrease

 

 

Percent
Change

 

North America

 

$

949,218

 

 

$

1,099,616

 

 

$

(150,398

)

 

 

-14

 

Europe

 

 

289,010

 

 

 

349,651

 

 

 

(60,641

)

 

 

-17

 

Latin America

 

 

304,870

 

 

 

363,799

 

 

 

(58,929

)

 

 

-16

 

Asia

 

 

59,721

 

 

 

69,679

 

 

 

(9,958

)

 

 

-14

 

Total Surfactants Segment

 

$

1,602,819

 

 

$

1,882,745

 

 

$

(279,926

)

 

 

-15

 

Net sales for North American operations decreased $150.4 million, or 14 percent, between years. Sales volume declined 14 percent and negatively impacted the year-over-year change in net sales by $150.9 million. The lower sales volume primarily reflects a slow down in demand across most end markets and significant customer and channel destocking. Foreign currency translation negatively impacted the change in net sales by $1.7 million. Higher average selling prices favorably impacted the change in net sales by $2.2 million.

Net sales for European operations decreased $60.6 million, or 17 percent, year-over-year. An 11 percent decrease in sales volume and lower average selling prices negatively impacted the change in net sales by $37.1 million and $26.9 million, respectively. The lower sales volume was primarily due to lower demand for products sold within the consumer products and agricultural end markets. The lower average selling prices were primarily due to the pass-through of lower raw material costs, less favorable product mix and increased competitive activity within certain end-use markets. Foreign currency translation positively impacted the year-over-year change in net sales by $3.4 million. A weaker U.S. dollar relative to the European euro led to the favorable foreign currency translation effect.

26


 

Net sales for Latin American operations decreased $58.9 million, or 16 percent, between years primarily due to lower average selling prices which negatively impacted the change in net sales by $91.0 million. The lower average selling prices were primarily due to less favorable product mix, the pass-through of lower raw material costs and increased competitive activity within certain end-use markets. Sales volume increased three percent and favorably impacted the change in net sales by $12.1 million. The higher sales volume primarily reflects higher demand within the consumer products end markets that was partially offset by lower demand within the agricultural end markets due to significant customer and channel inventory destocking. Foreign currency translation positively impacted the change in net sales by $20.0 million. A weaker U.S. dollar relative to the Mexican peso and Brazilian real led to the favorable foreign currency translation.

Net sales for Asian Surfactant operations decreased $10.0 million, or 14 percent, year-over-year. A nine percent decline in sales volume, lower average selling prices and the unfavorable impact of foreign currency translation negatively impacted the change in net sales by $6.0 million, $2.5 million and $1.5 million, respectively. The decline in sales volume primarily reflects lower demand for products sold within the consumer products end markets that was partially offset by higher demand from our distribution partners.

Surfactant operating income for 2023 decreased $90.3 million, or 56 percent, versus operating income reported in 2022. Gross profit decreased $105.4 million, or 38 percent, and operating expenses decreased $15.1 million, or 13 percent. Year-over-year comparisons of gross profit by region and total segment operating expenses and operating income follow:

 

 

 

For the Year
Ended December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(In thousands)

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

Decrease

 

 

Percent
Change

 

Gross Profit and Operating Income

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North America

 

$

112,203

 

 

$

174,097

 

 

$

(61,894

)

 

 

-36

 

Europe

 

 

26,655

 

 

 

41,349

 

 

 

(14,694

)

 

 

-36

 

Latin America

 

 

25,232

 

 

 

53,494

 

 

 

(28,262

)

 

 

-53

 

Asia

 

 

7,267

 

 

 

7,822

 

 

 

(555

)

 

 

-7

 

Surfactants Segment Gross Profit

 

$

171,357

 

 

$

276,762

 

 

$

(105,405

)

 

 

-38

 

Operating Expenses

 

 

98,958

 

 

 

114,016

 

 

 

(15,058

)

 

 

-13

 

Surfactants Segment Operating Income

 

$

72,399

 

 

$

162,746

 

 

$

(90,347

)

 

 

-56

 

Gross profit for North American operations decreased $61.9 million, or 36 percent, primarily due to lower average unit margins and a 14 percent decrease in sales volume. These items negatively impacted the year-over-year change in gross profit by $37.9 million and $23.9 million, respectively. The lower average unit margins were mostly attributable to less favorable product mix and high-cost inventory carryover in 2023. Foreign currency translation negatively impacted the change in gross profit by $0.1 million.

Gross profit for European operations decreased $14.7 million, or 36 percent, primarily due to lower average unit margins and an 11 percent decrease in sales volume. These items negatively impacted the year-over-year change in gross profit by $10.6 million and $4.4 million, respectively. The lower average unit margins primarily reflect a less favorable product mix and increased competitive activity within certain end-use markets. Foreign currency translation positively impacted the year-over-year change in gross profit by $0.3 million.

Gross profit for Latin American operations decreased $28.3 million, or 53 percent, primarily due to lower average unit margins which negatively impacted the year-over-year change in gross profit by $31.0 million. These lower average unit margins were primarily due to less favorable product mix, mostly due to lower demand for products sold into the agricultural end market, and increased competitive activity from imported products. A three percent increase in sales volume and the favorable impact of foreign currency translation positively impacted the year-over-year change in gross profit by $1.8 million and $0.9 million, respectively.

Gross profit for Asian Surfactant operations decreased $0.6 million, or seven percent, year-over-year. A nine percent decline in sales volume negatively impacted the change in gross profit by $0.7 million. Higher average unit margins favorably impacted the year-over-year change in gross profit by $0.1 million.

Operating expenses for the Surfactant segment decreased $15.1 million, or 13 percent, year-over-year. Most of this decrease was attributable to lower salaries and incentive-based compensation expenses.

27


 

Polymers

Polymer net sales in 2023 decreased $146.6 million, or 19 percent, versus the prior year. A 15 percent decrease in sales volume and lower average selling prices negatively impacted the year-over-year change in net sales by $114.5 million and $38.8 million, respectively. Foreign currency translation positively impacted the year-over-year change in net sales by $6.7 million. A year-over-year comparison of net sales by region follows:

 

 

 

For the Year
Ended December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(In thousands)

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

Decrease

 

 

Percent
Change

 

North America

 

$

338,979

 

 

$

437,312

 

 

$

(98,333

)

 

 

-22

 

Europe

 

 

259,491

 

 

 

307,441

 

 

 

(47,950

)

 

 

-16

 

Asia and Other

 

 

44,001

 

 

 

44,327

 

 

 

(326

)

 

 

-1

 

Total Polymers Segment

 

$

642,471

 

 

$

789,080

 

 

$

(146,609

)

 

 

-19

 

Net sales for North American operations decreased $98.3 million, or 22 percent, primarily due to a 22 percent decline in sales volume which negatively impacted the change in net sales by $96.8 million. Sales volume of polyols used in rigid foam applications decreased 22 percent year-over-year. Sales volume within the phthalic anhydride and specialty polyols businesses decreased 31 percent and 13 percent, respectively. The year-over-year decline in sales volume primarily reflects customer and channel inventory destocking and reduced construction-related activities. Lower average selling prices negatively impacted the year-over-year change in net sales by $1.5 million.

Net sales for European Polymer operations decreased $48.0 million, or 16 percent, year-over-year. A 10 percent decrease in sales volume and lower average selling prices negatively impacted the change in net sales by $32.1 million and $24.7 million, respectively. The decline in sales volume reflects customer and channel inventory destocking, reduced construction-related activities and customer share loss. The lower average selling prices were primarily due to the pass-through of lower raw material costs and increased competitive activities. Favorable foreign currency translation positively impacted the change in net sales by $8.8 million. A weaker U.S. dollar relative to the Polish zloty led to the favorable foreign currency translation.

Net sales for Asian and Other operations decreased $0.3 million, or one percent. Lower average selling prices and the unfavorable impact of foreign currency translation negatively impacted the year-over-year change in net sales by $5.2 million and $2.2 million, respectively. A 16 percent increase in sales volume positively impacted the change in net sales by $7.1 million. The higher sales volume reflects the loosening of COVID lockdowns and restrictions in China during the early part of 2023.

Polymer operating income for 2023 decreased $22.1 million, or 27 percent, versus operating income for 2022. Gross profit decreased $25.9 million, or 23 percent, and operating expenses were down $3.8 million, or 12 percent, year-over-year. Year-over-year comparisons of gross profit by region and total segment operating expenses and operating income follow:

 

 

 

For the Year
Ended December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(In thousands)

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

Increase
(Decrease)

 

 

Percent
Change

 

Gross Profit and Operating Income

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North America

 

$

45,012

 

 

$

63,768

 

 

$

(18,756

)

 

 

-29

 

Europe

 

 

39,373

 

 

 

46,733

 

 

 

(7,360

)

 

 

-16

 

Asia and Other

 

 

4,496

 

 

 

4,286

 

 

 

210

 

 

 

5

 

Polymers Segment Gross Profit

 

$

88,881

 

 

$

114,787

 

 

$

(25,906

)

 

 

-23

 

Operating Expenses

 

 

28,111

 

 

 

31,890

 

 

 

(3,779

)

 

 

-12

 

Polymers Segment Operating Income

 

$

60,770

 

 

$

82,897

 

 

$

(22,127

)

 

 

-27

 

Gross profit for North American operations decreased $18.8 million, or 29 percent, due to a 22 percent decline in sales volume and lower average unit margins. These items negatively impacted the year-over-year change in gross profit by $14.1 million and $4.7 million, respectively. The lower unit margins primarily reflect high-cost inventory carryover in 2023.

Gross profit for European Polymer operations decreased $7.4 million, or 16 percent, year-over-year. This decrease was primarily due to a 10 percent decline in sales volume and lower average unit margins. These items negatively impacted the change in gross profit by $4.9 million and $3.7 million, respectively. The lower unit margins primarily reflect high-cost inventory carryover in 2023. Foreign currency translation positively impacted the year-over-year change in gross profit by $1.2 million.

28


 

Gross profit for Asia and Other operations increased $0.2 million, or five percent, primarily due to a 16 percent increase in sales volume, which positively impacted the year-over-year change in gross profit by $0.7 million. Lower average unit margins and the unfavorable impact of the foreign currency translation negatively impacted the year-over-year change in gross profit by $0.3 million and $0.2 million, respectively.

Operating expenses for the Polymers segment decreased $3.8 million, or 12 percent, year-over-year mainly due to lower salaries and incentive-based compensation expenses.

Specialty Products

Specialty Products net sales in 2023 decreased $21.0 million, or 21 percent, versus net sales in 2022. Gross profit and operating income decreased $19.3 million and $18.4 million, respectively, year-over-year. The year-over-year decline in net sales, gross profit and operating income were mostly attributable to a 19 percent decline in sales volume and lower unit margins within the medium chain triglycerides (MCT) product line. The lower unit margins were primarily due to high-cost raw material inventory and competitive pressures.

Corporate Expenses

Corporate expenses, which include deferred compensation, business restructuring, asset/goodwill/other intangibles impairment charges and other operating expenses that are not allocated to the reportable segments, increased $17.8 million between years. Corporate expenses were $86.0 million in 2023 versus $68.2 million in 2022. This increase was primarily attributable to $13.8 million of higher deferred compensation expense and a $12.7 million increase in business restructuring and asset/goodwill/other intangibles impairment expenses in 2023 versus 2022. Partially offsetting these increases was a $10.5 million reduction in environmental remediation reserve expenses year over year.

The $13.8 million increased in deferred compensation expense was primarily due to an increase in the market values of mutual fund investment assets held for the plans in 2023 versus a decrease in 2022. An $11.91 per share decrease in the market price of Company common stock during 2023 compared to a $17.83 per share decrease in 2022 also contributed to the year-over-year change. The following table presents the period-end Company common stock market prices used in the computation of deferred compensation income/expense in 2023, 2022 and 2021:

 

 

 

December 31

 

 

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

2021

 

 

2020

 

Company Stock Price

 

$

94.55

 

 

$

106.46

 

 

$

124.29

 

 

$

119.32

 

 

Liquidity and Capital Resources

Overview

Historically, the Company’s principal sources of liquidity have included cash flows from operating activities, available cash and cash equivalents and the proceeds from debt issuance and borrowings under credit facilities. The Company’s principal uses of cash have included funding operating activities, capital investments and acquisitions. The Company’s generation of cash from operations, cash on hand, committed credit facilities and ability to access capital markets are expected to meet the Company’s short-term and long-term cash requirements for working capital, capital expenditures, debt maturities, contributions to pension plans, dividend distributions to stockholders, share repurchases and other needs.

For 2023, cash generated from operating activities was a cash source of $174.9 million versus a source of $160.8 million in 2022. For 2023, investing cash outflows were $258.7 million versus cash outflows of $308.1 million in 2022. Financing activities were a cash source of $33.3 million in 2023 versus a source of $166.2 million in 2022. Cash and cash equivalents decreased by $43.9 million compared to December 31, 2022, inclusive of a $6.6 million favorable foreign exchange rate impact.

As of December 31, 2023, the Company’s cash and cash equivalents totaled $129.8 million. Cash in U.S. demand deposit accounts and money market funds totaled $6.4 million and $15.1 million, respectively. The Company’s non-U.S. subsidiaries held $108.3 million of cash outside the United States as of December 31, 2023.

29


 

Operating Activities

Net income decreased by $106.9 million in 2023 versus the prior year. Working capital was a cash source of $13.4 million in 2023 versus a cash use of $75.7 million in 2022.

Accounts receivable were a cash source of $32.0 million in 2023 compared to a use of $26.2 million in 2022. Inventories were a cash source of $144.8 million in 2023 versus a use of $99.4 million in 2022. Accounts payable and accrued liabilities were a cash use of $158.9 million in 2023 compared to a source of $54.2 million in 2022.

Working capital requirements were lower in 2023 compared to 2022 primarily due to the changes noted above. The change in accounts receivable working capital primarily reflects lower sales volume due to a reduction in demand across most end use markets along with extensive customer and channel inventory destocking. The change in inventories reflects lower quantities and unit costs in 2023. The change in accounts payable primarily reflects lower raw material quantities purchased during 2023 combined with lower raw material unit costs. It is management’s opinion that the Company’s liquidity is reasonably sufficient to provide for potential increases in working capital requirements during 2024.

Investing Activities

Cash used for investing activities decreased $49.4 million year-over-year. Cash used for capital expenditures was $260.3 million in 2023 versus $301.6 million in 2022. The year-over-year decrease was mainly due to lower capital expenditures in the U.S. for the advancement of the Company’s new alkoxylation plant in Pasadena, Texas. The Company is executing the last phase of its Pasadena, Texas alkoxylation investment, with the facility expected to start up in the third quarter of 2024.

For 2024, the Company estimates that total capital expenditures will be in the range of $120.0 million to $140.0 million. This projected spending includes expenditures associated with the completion of the new alkoxylation plant in Pasadena, Texas, along with growth, infrastructure and optimization initiatives.

Financing Activities

Cash flow from financing activities was a source of $33.3 million in 2023 versus a source of $166.2 million in 2022. The year-over-year change is primarily due to a lower level of borrowings under the Company’s revolving credit facility during 2023.

The Company purchases shares of its common stock in the open market or from its benefit plans from time to time to fund its own benefit plans and to mitigate the dilutive effect of new shares issued under its compensation plans. The Company may, from time to time, seek to purchase additional amounts of its outstanding equity and/or retire debt securities through cash purchases and/or exchanges for other securities, in open market purchases, privately negotiated transactions or otherwise, including pursuant to plans meeting the requirements of Rule 10b5-1 promulgated by the SEC. While the amounts involved may be material, such repurchases or exchanges, if any, will depend on prevailing market conditions, the Company’s liquidity requirements, contractual restrictions and other factors. During the twelve months ended December 31, 2023, the Company did not purchase any shares of its common stock on the open market. At December 31, 2023, the Company had $125.1 million remaining for future repurchases under the share repurchase program authorized by its Board of Directors.

Debt and Credit Facilities

Consolidated balance sheet debt increased from $587.1 million on December 31, 2022 to $654.1 million on December 31, 2023, primarily due to domestic borrowings from the Company’s revolving credit facility. Net debt (which is defined as total debt minus cash – See the “Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Net Debt” section of this MD&A) increased by $110.9 million in 2023, from $413.4 million on December 31, 2022 to $524.3 million on December 31, 2023. This change reflects a debt increase of $67.0 million and a cash decrease of $43.9 million.

As of December 31, 2023, the ratio of net debt to net debt plus shareholders’ equity was 30.1 percent versus 26.2 percent as of December 31, 2022 (see the “Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Net Debt” section in this MD&A for further details). On December 31, 2023, the Company’s debt included $359.8 million of unsecured notes, with maturities ranging from 2024 through 2032, that were issued to insurance companies in private placement transactions pursuant to note purchase agreements (the “Note Purchase Agreements”), a $95.0 million delayed-draw term loan borrowed pursuant to the Company’s credit agreement, $188.0 million of short-term loans borrowed under the Company’s revolving credit facility and $11.3 of foreign credit line borrowings. The proceeds from the note issuances have been the Company’s primary source of long-term debt financing and are supplemented by borrowings under bank credit facilities to meet short and medium-term liquidity needs.

30


 

On September 29, 2023, the Company entered into amendments to the Note Purchase Agreements (the NPA Amendments) to primarily provide additional covenant flexibility. The NPA Amendments, among other things, (i) amended the existing maximum net leverage ratio covenant; (ii) expanded the definition of “Qualified Cash”, a metric used to calculate the net leverage ratio, to include 65 percent of unrestricted and unencumbered foreign-based cash or permitted investments; and (iii) included a debt rating requirement and, to the extent the relevant notes are rated below investment grade, a rating fee of 0.75 percent per annum.

The Company’s credit agreement with a syndicate of banks provides for credit facilities in an initial aggregate principal amount of $450.0 million, consisting of (a) a $350.0 million multi-currency revolving credit facility and (b) a $100.0 million delayed draw term loan credit facility, each of which matures on June 24, 2027. The Company maintains import letters of credit, and standby letters of credit under its workers’ compensation insurance agreements and for other purposes, as needed from time to time, which are issued under the revolving credit agreement. As of December 31, 2023, the Company had outstanding loans totaling $283.0 million, inclusive of a $95.0 million delayed draw term loan, and letters of credit totaling $10.9 million under the credit agreement, with $151.1 million remaining available.

On September 29, 2023, the Company entered into an amendment (the Amendment) to the Credit Agreement. The Amendment amends the Credit Agreement to, among other things, (i) provide for a maximum net leverage ratio on substantially the same terms as the corresponding covenant contained in the NPA Amendments; and (ii) expand the definition of “Qualified Cash”, to align with the definition of “Qualified Cash” included in the NPA Amendments.

The Company anticipates that cash from operations, committed credit facilities and cash on hand will be reasonably sufficient to fund anticipated capital expenditures, working capital, dividends and other planned financial commitments for the foreseeable future.

Certain foreign subsidiaries of the Company maintain short-term bank lines of credit in their respective local currencies to meet working capital requirements as well as to fund capital expenditures and acquisitions. At December 31, 2023, the Company’s foreign subsidiaries had $11.3 million of outstanding debt.

The Company is subject to covenants under its material debt agreements that require the maintenance of minimum interest coverage and minimum net worth. These debt covenants also limit the incurrence of additional debt as well as the payment of dividends and repurchase of shares. Under the most restrictive of these debt covenants:

1.

The Company is required to maintain a minimum interest coverage ratio, as defined within the agreements, of 3.50 to 1.00, for the preceding four calendar quarters.

2.

The Company is required to maintain an existing maximum net leverage ratio, as defined within the agreements, not to exceed 4.00 to 1.00.

3.

The Company is required to maintain net worth of at least $750.0 million.

 

4.

The Company is permitted to pay dividends and purchase treasury shares after June 24, 2022, in amounts of up to $100.0 million plus 100 percent of net income and cash proceeds of stock option exercises, measured cumulatively beginning January 1, 2022. The maximum amount of dividends that could have been paid within this limitation is disclosed as unrestricted retained earnings in Note 6, Debt, of the notes to the Company’s consolidated financial statements (included in Item 8 of this Form 10-K).

The Company believes it was in compliance with the covenants under its material debt agreements as of December 31, 2023.

31


 

Material Cash Requirements

At December 31, 2023, the Company’s material cash requirements included the following contractual obligations (including estimated payments by period):

 

 

Payments Due by Period

 

(In thousands)

 

Total

 

 

Less than
1 year

 

 

1-3 years

 

 

3 – 5 years

 

 

More than
5 years

 

Total debt obligations (1)

 

$

655,041

 

 

$

252,898

 

 

$

135,894

 

 

$

180,535

 

 

$

85,714

 

Interest payments on debt obligations (2)

 

 

39,562

 

 

$

10,157

 

 

$

15,453

 

 

$

8,580

 

 

$

5,372

 

Operating lease obligations (3)

 

 

84,914

 

 

 

16,105

 

 

 

21,189

 

 

 

13,065

 

 

 

34,555

 

Purchase obligations (4)

 

 

4,535

 

 

 

4,125

 

 

 

410

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other (5)

 

 

68,691

 

 

 

30,564

 

 

 

20,988

 

 

 

5,357

 

 

 

11,782

 

Total

 

$

852,743

 

 

$

313,849

 

 

$

193,934

 

 

$

207,537