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September 30, 2002
Volume 80, Number 39
CENEAR 80 39 p. 10
ISSN 0009-2347


EARNINGS

BAD OMENS FOR THIRD QUARTER
Economy, energy, plant woes pull down earnings estimates

ALEX TULLO

A recovery seems to be eluding the chemical industry in the third quarter of 2002 as companies and analysts warn on earnings. However, a couple of optimistic companies are providing a small sliver of silver lining for the industry.

Last week, Eastman Chemical warned that third-quarter earnings will be lowered by disruptions at plants that make polyester feedstock. Rohm and Haas warned that earnings could be 40 to 42 cents per share, which is below previous estimates in the mid-40s, because of a methyl methacrylate outage in Houston and a bankruptcy at a contractor.

Mark R. Gulley, a chemical analyst with Banc of America Securities, has lowered his 2002 and 2003 estimates for Rohm and Haas by 10 cents, to $1.75 and $2.10 per share, respectively, and is disappointed with its performance in electronic materials. “We prefer to remain on the sidelines, in light of slower growth coupled with potential for rising raw material and energy costs,” he says.

Similarly, Merrill Lynch chemical analyst Donald D. Carson cited crude-oil prices, which have increased by about 50% this year, in lowering his third-quarter estimate on Lyondell Chemical from a 7-cent profit to a 5-cent loss. Carson also lowered his earnings estimate for Millennium Chemicals from 13 cents to 3 cents and warned that higher feedstock prices could trouble Dow Chemical’s profits by year’s end.

Citing the economy, OM Group dropped its third-quarter earnings estimate to 82–86 cents from 89–94 cents. However, Air Products & Chemicals says its quarterly earnings will reach its 64-cent-per-share estimate on an improved electronics business as well as good North American and Asian industrial gas volumes. Georgia Gulf says it will meet analysts’ estimates of 51 cents per share as a result of higher polyvinyl chloride prices.



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