BY TIMOTHY BOONE
Advocate business writer
October 26, 2012
Albemarle Corp. announced quarterly earnings Wednesday that beat analysts’ estimates despite a 9 percent drop in revenue.
The Baton Rouge specialty chemicals maker reported third-quarter earnings of $99.3 million, or $1.10 per share, Wednesday, compared with third-quarter 2011 earnings of $116.1 million, or $1.28 per share.
That was slightly better than the $1.08 per-share earnings that analysts were predicting, according to estimates from Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Albemarle reported net sales of $661.2 million last quarter, compared with net sales of nearly $723 million a year ago. Analysts had predicted net sales of $670.2 million.
Albemarle said about two-thirds of the difference in sales from 2011 to 2012, which would be about $41 million, was attributable to lower metals surcharges in the catalysts business.
“Given the challenging economic environment, we are pleased with our results,” Luke Kissam, Albemarle CEO, in said in a statement.
“Polymer solutions faced severe deterioration in the electronics and European construction markets, but its performance was further evidence of the improvements we have made to this business since the 2008/2009 recession.”
Albemarle’s catalysts and polymer solutions divisions both saw a double-digit drop in net sales in the third quarter compared with the same period in 2011. Catalysts was down 16 percent, to $251.2 million in net sales, while polymer solutions fell 11 percent, to $217 million. The company blamed the decrease on unfavorable foreign currency rates and the decision to exit the phosphorous flame retardants business in the second quarter.
However, the company’s fine chemistry segment had net sales in the third quarter totaling $193 million, an 8 percent increase over net sales in the third quarter of 2011, mainly because of favorable volumes.
Kissam said the fourth quarter for Albemarle looks like it will be more challenging than the third because of soft end-market demand for polymers and low factory operating rates. But the company said it expects to grow all three segments of its business in 2013.
Albemarle’s stock closed Wednesday at $54.28, up 48 cents or 0.89 percent.