Dow Chemical Co. (Midland, MI) reported third-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ expectations as wider margins in European plastics more than made up for declining agriculture markets.
The U.S. chemical maker’s net income rose to $1.09 a share from 71 cents a year earlier. Sales were $12 billion, down 16% year over year driven by pricing and currency. Volume increased 2%, excluding the impact of divestitures and acquisitions. Gains were reported in most operating segments, excluding Agricultural Sciences, led by Performance Plastics (up 5%) and Infrastructure Solutions and Consumer Solutions (both up 2%).
EBITDA rose to $2.9 billion, or $2.4 billion on an operating basis as Dow captured demand with its innovative solutions in key value chains, including transportation, packaging, infrastructure and semiconductor markets.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Liveris completed the sale of Dow Chlorine Products on Oct. 5 to focus on more-profitable businesses such as plastic packaging, seeds and pesticides. “This transaction allows Dow to maximize shareholder value, while maintaining our commitment to these industry-leading joint ventures,” said Liveris.
Margins from polyethylene and other plastics that comprise Dow’s largest business expanded as European factories took advantage of lower prices for naphtha refined from crude oil.
Commenting on the Company’s outlook, Liveris said:
“Dow’s three years of consistent earnings growth demonstrates clearly that we have built a portfolio that captures growth where growth exists. In the forthcoming quarters we will continue to see growth and capture that growth in markets such as China, the U.S. and Europe, despite challenging macros in other parts of the world, such as Brazil.
“Our new investments are coming online at exactly the right time: Increased demand will ultimately drive oil prices higher – further boosting Dow’s ability to capture and expand margins. We have purposefully built a structurally hedged portfolio that is proven to perform in many environments, driven by our investments in differentiated technologies and solutions. All of this positions us well to continue to deliver increasing shareholder returns.”