Emerging markets drive Dow Chemical’s 4Q profit

Dow Chemical rebounds from year-ago loss, turns 4th-qtr profit on sales growth across segments

Dow Chemical Co. on Tuesday said it climbed its way back to a fourth-quarter profit, driven by strength in emerging markets and gains from acquisitions.

The company that makes the essential materials for everything from insulation to car paint said it expects continued improvement in emerging markets such as Asia and Latin America, while growth in the U.S. and Europe will lag due to high unemployment and uncertainty in government stimulus spending.

Because the company’s chemicals are in a vast array of products, Dow’s results and outlook can serve as a barometer for consumer sentiment.

Dow, based in Midland, Michigan, had a quarterly profit of $87 million, or 8 cents per share. A year ago, in the depths of the recession, demand for chemicals slumped and Dow posted a fourth-quarter loss of $1.55 billion, or $1.68 per share. During 2009, Dow slashed jobs, shuttered plants and sold assets to lower debt.

Excluding one-time items, adjusted earnings beat expectations, coming to 18 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected an adjusted profit of 11 cents per share.

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Revenue rose 15 percent to $12.47 billion from $10.85 billion. Dow acquired specialty chemicals maker Rohm & Haas in April. If Rohm had been part of Dow in the year-ago quarter, the revenue increase would have been 4 percent.

For the full year, the company’s profit declined to $336 million, or 32 cents per share, compared with $579 million, or 62 cents per share in 2008. Excluding special items, earnings totaled 63 cents per share.

Revenue slid 22 percent to $44.88 billion, down from $57.36 billion in the prior year.

Shares of Dow tumbled 3.1 percent to $27.75 in premarket trading.

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