Rohm & Haas profit jumps; some demand slows

By agencies   |   Friday, 22 April 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW YORK: Chemicals maker Rohm and Haas Co. (NASDAQ:ROH.N) on Thursday reported a higher quarterly profit on increased selling prices for paint chemicals and other products, but it also saw signs of slowing global demand.

The maker of paint ingredients, road salt and building chemicals forecast 2005 earnings would meet or beat expectations. But it cautioned global demand was slowing in key markets like construction.
Shares of the Philadelphia company closed up $1.98, or nearly 5 percent, at $44.81.
Net income rose to $159 million, or 70 cents a share, compared with $114 million, or 51 cents, a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected earnings of 64 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.
Rohm and Haas, like its peers, has hiked its selling prices in recent months to keep pace with increased costs for the oil and natural gas used to make chemicals.

"We are successfully implementing price increases to recover the extraordinary run-up in raw material and energy costs while maintaining tight control over operating costs," Chief Executive Raj Gupta said in a statement.

Sales in the quarter rose 10 percent to $2.02 billion with a favorable currency impact offset by lower demand while the cost of goods sold rose 8 percent to $1.4 billion.

Coatings led the rise in total sales, notching revenue of $624 million, a 10-percent gain over the same period a year earlier as selling prices increased.

However, sales of electronic chemicals -- used in markets like semiconductors -- were flat at $302 million, the company said.

Performance Chemicals, used in buildings and construction, rose 7 percent to $404 million. Higher prices and favorable currencies were partly hurt by lower demand, especially in the the North American and European construction markets.

Gupta said high oil prices and energy costs, as well as rising interest rates, were having an effect on global demand. Still, Rohm and Haas expected modest volume growth overall for the year, aided by the introduction of new products, selective price increases, and streamlining processes.
The company forecast full-year sales growth of 10 percent to 12 percent

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