BASF, Europe's largest chemicals group, has reported operating profits before special items for 2000 of €3.4bn (US$3.1bn). The results beat expectations and the German group has said that it expects double-digit growth in full-year operating profit before special items this year and next.

The company saw sales rise 22% to almost €36bn. The chemical division produces colorants and vitamins for food and animal feed use. BASF strengthened its position in the vitamins by acquiring the vitamin business of Japan's Takeda last year.

"I am pleased to be able to present such good figures for BASF, after what has not been an easy year for the chemical industry," said Jurgen Strube, chairman of the board of executive directors, in a statement on Wednesday.