BASF, the world's leading chemicals company, said Wednesday that it was able to double net profit in 2004 as a result of its cost-cutting efforts and booming worldwide demand for chemicals. BASF said in a statement it booked net profit of €1.883 billion ($ 2.5 billion) last year, up from €910 million a year earlier. Operating profit, as measured by earnings before interest, tax and special items (EBIT) rose by 63.5 percent to € 4.893 billion on a 12.5-percent increase in sales to € 37.537 billion. Looking ahead to the current year, Chairman Jürgen Hambrecht said that "overall, we are confident when we look to the coming months and we are encouraged by the figures for January and February." Assuming no political trouble spots flared up and there was no sudden downturn in the economic environment, "we expect to achieve slightly higher sales in 2005 and follow on from the high level of EBIT before special items posted in 2004," Hambrecht said.