Dow Chemical earnings beat estimates; show rebounding economy

Dow Chemical beat analysts' estimates in Q1 2010, posting a 48 percent increase in revenue to $13.42 billion. The company said a rebounding economy helped it surge forward.

Dow Chemical beat analysts' estimates on Wednesday, announcing a big bump in net income to $466 million, or 41 cents a share, after earnings of just $24 million, or 3 cents a share, one year ago.

Revenue rose 48 percent, from $9.04 billion to $13.42 billion.

Analysts estimated the company's earnings would be 30 cents per share and $12.9 billion in revenue.

The reason for the bump? A rebounding economy.

The manufacturer of ingredients in cosmetics, electronics, auto paint and food, Dow said stronger demand led to price increases of 17 percent across most of its businesses, which bolstered Q1 2010 results.

Rival chemical manufacturer DuPont also reported strong earnings on Tuesday.

"The overall global economic environment is on stronger footing, with the highlight being significant demand growth in Europe and North America," Dow chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris said on an earnings call.

Key takeaways from the call, by the numbers:

  • Sales were up 33 percent year-over-year and up 8 percent over the fourth quarter.
  • Volume growth in North America and Europe was up 11 percent each compared with last year.
  • Emerging markets are looking up: volume was up 27 percent, year-over-year. Highlight: China, where volume was up 46 percent.
  • Global operating rate was at "levels not seen since the second quarter of 2008."
  • Manufacturing momentum improved despite several unplanned outages.
  • Joint ventures are treating the company well, reporting earnings up by $200 million, year-over-year, to $304 million.

Demand growth was strongest in China, the company said, followed by Brazil, India and Eastern Europe.

Gains in revenue were led by higher sales in Dow's basic plastics business (polystyrene, polypropylene, etc.), which showed a 49 percent sales increase.

Revenue for "performance chemicals" -- materials for paints, pharmaceuticals, paper coatings, water purification and so forth -- rose 41 percent.

Revenue for coatings and infrastructure grew 21 percent, driven mostly by emerging markets and challenged by North America and western Europe.

Revenue for basic chemicals rose 22 percent.

One sore point on the call: lower revenues for Dow's health and agricultural business, thanks to an oversupply of glyphosate, a weed killer.

Lastly, Dow said its $16.5 billion acquisition of specialty chemicals maker Rohm & Haas last year helped it save $275 million.

Dow provided no outlook for the next quarter.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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