Dow Chemical profit beats predictions, but sales miss the mark

MIDLAND, Mich., Thu Apr 26, 2012 – Solid sales of herbicides and other agricultural products helped Dow Chemical Co.’s first-quarter profit beat Wall Street’s expectations, but lower-than-expected revenue pushed shares down more than 3 percent in premarket trading.

Dow’s chemicals and other products are used to make plastics, computers, clothing and many other consumer goods. The company’s results are often seen as a key barometer of global economic health.

The largest U.S. chemical maker by sales said the U.S. economy is improving, helped by shale-derived natural gas, and that China would continue to be an attractive growth market.

But parts of Europe remain in “recessionary conditions,” the company said on Thursday. Volume rose in Europe only because of a propylene supply agreement Dow has with Braskem SA for that continent after the Brazilian company bought Dow’s polypropylene business last year.

“We anticipate that global growth will gain momentum as we move through the second quarter and into the remainder of the year,” Chief Executive Andrew Liveris said in a statement on Wednesday.

For the quarter ended March 31, the company posted net income of $412 million, or 35 cents per share, compared with $625 million, or 54 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

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