Dow AgroSciences’ profit bright spot for parent-WEB ONLY

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Dow AgroSciences racked up record profit and sales in the first
quarter, the Indianapolis-based company’s parent, Dow Chemical Co.,
reported today.

The agricultural arm of the Midland, Mich., company generated $338
million in earnings before interest and taxes, a 2.1-percent gain from
the same period last year.

Sales rose 7.7 percent, to $1.4 billion, the 11th straight record
increase as the company continued to benefit from expanding global
demand for its chemicals and genetically altered seeds. Dow
AgroSciences raised prices an average of 6 percent, but the additional
revenue was largely neutralized by unfavorable currency exchange rates.

Acquisitions also contributed to the gains.

Dow AgroScience’s performance was the lone bright spot for Dow
Chemical, which saw overall profit plunge 97 percent due to job cuts
and a steep drop in sales. The results, however, easily beat Wall
Street expectations.

Excluding charges and other one-time items, Dow earned 12 cents per
share during the period. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected,
on average, a loss of 21 cents per share on revenue of $11.69 billion.
Analysts typically exclude one-time charges.

Dow AgroSciences has about 1,000 workers at its northwest-side
headquarters. In October, it announced it would fill 350 new positions
worldwide, including 200 in Indianapolis, in anticipation of rising
long-term global demand for agricultural products.
Dow Chemical Co. earned $24 million, or 3 cents per share, compared with $941 million, or 99 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding charges and other one-time items, Dow earned 12 cents per share during the period.

Sales fell 39 percent, to $9.09 billion, from $14.82 billion a year earlier.

Shares jumped more than 10 percent, or $1.42, to $14.93 in premarket trading.

“Our positive earnings in this recessionary environment were the direct
result of our rapid actions to reduce costs and tightly manage
operations,” said Andrew Liveris, Dow’s chairman and CEO.

The company posted a $19 million charge related to a restructuring plan
announced late last year. Dow also recorded a $48 million charge
related to its buyout of Rohm & Haas this year, and a $29 million
charge related to its stake in Dow Corning.

Because Dow’s chemicals are used in such a wide variety of products,
from toys to packaging, the global economic downturn has hit the
company especially hard. Overall volumes declined 19 percent from the
first quarter last year and prices fell 20 percent.
Sales in the company’s performance plastics division fell 39 percent,
to $2.4 billion, and prices fell 11 percent. Dow’s automotive and
building businesses reported substantial slowdowns.

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