While the cash-for-clunkers auto rebate program gave the U.S. economy a strong boost, the end of the recession remains uncertain, the head of chemical maker Huntsman Corp (HUN.N) said on Wednesday.
I think that you might see something more of a W-shaped recovery, Chief Executive Officer Peter Huntsman told Reuters.
A W-shaped recovery happens when a decline in economic activity is interrupted by a short boost before another drop and eventual recovery.
The government's clunkers program provided a much-needed jolt to sales as customers in the automotive industry needed more of Huntsman's paints and other products, the CEO said.
Yet the program, as well as low raw material prices and other macroeconomic factors, may have caused a false illusion about any end to the recession, said Huntsman, 46.
On the positive side, destocking -- where customers use up existing inventory and hold back on new purchases -- appears to be over.
The supply chain that we're seeing is extremely tight, Huntsman said.
There is concern, though, that customers may be taking advantage of low prices and building reserves, rather than responding to an increase in consumer demand, Huntsman said.
The Woodlands, Texas-based company recently received a $1.7 billion payment from Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) and Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) to settle claims that the banks interfered with Hexion Specialty Chemicals' failed attempt to buy Huntsman.
To avoid a protracted skirmish, it was in the best interest of the company to settle, Huntsman said.
We're not a litigious company, he said. We're a company that's in the chemical industry.
The settlement gave Huntsman a comfortable cash cushion from which to operate during a time of slow sales, even as many competitors struggle.
The company sees Asia -- specifically China -- as a key growth area as the standard of living among the region's residents gradually increases, Huntsman said.
As I look at China ... I get excited by the fact that you have hundreds of millions of people that are literally being lifted up that economic ladder, he said.
Shares of Huntsman were up 2.1 percent at $7.72 in morning New York Stock Exchange trading. The stock price has ranged from $2.04 to $14.50 in the past 52 weeks.