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CHEMICAL EARNINGS TUMBLE ONCE AGAIN
[C&EN, Feb. 25, 2002]
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NEWS OF THE WEEK
PAYOFF
March 25, 2002
Volume 80, Number 12
CENEAR 80 12 p. 10
ISSN 0009-2347
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Cost Cutting Works For Chemical Firms

WILLIAM STORCK

Eastman Chemical, Georgia Gulf, and Rohm and Haas issued earnings forecasts last week, and their predictions look promising--all are higher than securities analysts' estimates.

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Ferguson
While not giving an exact number, Eastman says it now expects first-quarter earnings per share, excluding nonrecurring items, to be greater than the highest current analysts' estimate of 25 cents. In the fourth quarter last year, the company had a loss of 16 cents per share. J. Brian Ferguson, Eastman's CEO, says, "While we have not seen improvement in our sales revenue, the internal actions we have taken to improve our cost structure have resulted in our current earnings expectations for the first quarter of 2002."

Rohm and Haas says it expects earnings of 37 to 39 cents per share, compared with consensus estimates of 33 cents. The projection is about double the fourth-quarter earnings of 19 cents per share. CEO Raj L. Gupta says the improvement is due to a better business portfolio and product mix, along with cost reduction efforts. Gupta notes that overall sales for the first two months of this year trail last year's comparable period by 10 to 12%, primarily because of declines in electronic materials and salt.

Georgia Gulf says it will see a loss of between 5 and 10 cents per share. The consensus estimate on Wall Street is for a loss of 15 cents per share. The improvement comes from better vinyl resin and compound sales, and despite lower caustic soda prices.

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