BASF said in a statement that its net profit fell by 15.1 percent to 1.446 billion euros ($1.9 billion) in the period from January to March.
It attributed the decline, however, to the fact that the year-earlier figure had been inflated by windfall gains from the sale of its fertiliser business.
Operating or underlying profit, as measured by earnings before interest, tax and special items (EBIT), rose by 10.1 percent to 2.214 billion euros on 4.8-percent increase in sales to 19.738 billion euros.
“We have had a solid start to 2013. In particular, our business with crop protection products continued to be very successful,” chief executive Kurt Bock told shareholders at the group’s annual meeting.
“The increase in EBIT before special items was also due to considerable earnings improvement in the chemicals segment thanks to higher margins,” he said.
Looking ahead, BASF said it was sticking to its full-year targets.
“We stand by our outlook for 2013: We continue to aim to exceed the 2012 levels in sales and EBIT before special items,” said CEO Bock.