UPDATE 1-Albemarle beats estimates despite weak catalyst sales

Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:37pm EDT

* Third-quarter EPS $1.10 vs. Street forecast $1.08

* Revenue down 9 percent to $661.2 mln; misses Street

* Shares slip in after-hours trading

Oct 17 (Reuters) - Albemarle Corp posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday as strong sales of the chemical bromine helped to offset weak sales of catalysts used by petroleum refiners.

Shares fell 1.5 percent to $53.48 in after-hours trading.

The company posted net income of $99.3 million, or $1.10 per share, for the third quarter, compared with $116.1 million, or $1.28 per share, in the year-ago period.

Analysts on average expected $1.08 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue fell 9 percent to $661.2 million. Analysts expected $670.2 million.

Sales of specialty materials have become a niche industry for Albemarle and its peers, with customers increasingly willing to pay more for them.

The company tried to pass on higher supply costs to its key catalyst customers in the refining industry, a move that backfired, pushing sales in the catalyst unit down 16 percent to $251.2 million during the period.

Sales at the company's fine chemistry unit, which sells bromine and other specialty chemicals, increased 8 percent to $193 million.

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