(Adds details on results, outlook, analyst estimates)
NEW YORK, April 21 Specialty chemicals maker
Albemarle Corp (ALB.N) said on Monday its first-quarter
earnings rose, as strong results from its catalysts business
offset the impact of cost pressures in its other segments.
Its catalysts are used by refiners, and the company said it
expects oil demand to remain strong and that it has the
catalyst production capacity to meet growing demand in 2008 and
Net income in the quarter was $63.3 million, or 68 cents a
share, compared with a year-ago profit of $58.1 million, or 60
cents a share. Excluding items, the company posted earnings of
70 cents a share, up from 60 cents a share a year earlier.
Quarterly sales rose 13 percent to $668.2 million, spurred
primarily by strong sales from its polymer additives and
Analysts, on average, had expected earnings of 66 cents a
share on revenue of $652.3 million, according to Reuters
Earlier on Monday, Goldman Sachs upgraded Albemarle to
"buy" from "neutral," saying its depressed valuation represents
an unwarranted discount to the small-cap peer group.
The brokerage firm raised its price target by $8 to $50,
while adding that the market was neither fully crediting
Albemarle for the robust and defensive trends in catalysts, nor
the margin improvement opportunities in fine chemicals.
The company said it was increasing its presence in China
with expansions underway that will help it grow its flame
retardants, antioxidants and fine chemicals businesses in
But Albemarle said its operating margins are under pressure
in all businesses due to dramatic inflation in raw materials
and energy costs. Albemarle said it continues to work with its
customer base to pass on the rapidly escalating costs.
Albemarle shares are up 7.6 percent in the last three
months and closed at $39 on Monday on the New York Stock
(Reporting by Euan Rocha, with additional reporting by Aditi
Samajpati in Bangalore; Editing by Braden Reddall)