Albemarle posts quarterly sales, earnings decrease

Albemarle Corp. reported Wednesday its second-quarter adjusted earnings fell 29 percent, though shares of the Baton Rouge specialty chemical manufacturer held steady.

Earnings excluding special pension-related and non-operating items were $81.8 million, or 97 cents per share, compared with $115.3 million, or $1.28 per share a year ago.

Revenue was down as well, with net sales falling 7 percent to $634.2 million from $684.9 million in the same quarter last year.

Albemarle said the declines were driven by its exit from the phosphorus flame retardants business, lower metals surcharges, low prices for bromines and low fine chemistry services volumes.

The company said these factors were partly offset by favorable volumes in its refinery catalysts and brominated flame retardant businesses.

Albemarle’s 22 percent margins on earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization came “in spite of facing lower metals surcharges and an economic environment which saw continued sluggishness across Europe, weak electronics and construction markets and a much weaker China than most anticipated at the beginning of the year,” Chief Executive Officer Luke Kissam said in a news release in advance of a Thursday conference call with analysts and reporters.

“We also successfully met several key milestones with regard to bringing on our bromine and organometallics expansions, which will be essential drivers of our long-term growth,” he said.

Adjusted earnings for the first half of 2013 were $164.5 million, or $1.89 per share, down 28 percent from $227.8 million, or $2.53 per share.

Net sales for the first half of 2013 were $1.28 billion, down 9 percent from $1.40 billion, driven by lower metals surcharges and pricing on certain products.

The company reported sales in catalysts rose 2 percent to $233.8 million while earnings in that segment fell 25 percent to $51 million; sales of polymer solutions fell 9 percent to $224.3 million while income for the segment fell 34 percent to $43.7 million; and sales in fine chemistry fell 16 percent to $176.1 million while income for the segment fell 25 percent to $34.4 million.

Cash flow from operations was approximately $179 million for the first half of the year and Albemarle had $315 million in cash and cash equivalents as of June 30.

Albemarle shares rose 9 cents to close at $64.79 Wednesday amid somewhat lighter trading.