* Fourth-quarter revenue rises 3 pct to $2.71 billion
* Adjusted earnings $0.48/share vs estimates $0.37/share
* Shares rise as much as 6 pct
By Kanika Sikka
Feb 11 U.S. chemical maker Huntsman Corp's
forecast higher earnings across all its business units
this year, after posting a better-than-expected quarterly profit
as cost cuts boost margins.
Huntsman's shares rose as much as 5.7 percent to $23.41 on
A 7 percent drop in operating costs and higher sales at four
of Huntsman's five businesses helped the company post a
fourth-quarter profit, compared with a loss a year-ago.
The 4 percent rise in revenue at its biggest business,
polyurethane, was the steepest rise across all its businesses.
The business makes materials used in foam insulation and
accounted for more than 45 percent of revenue in the quarter.
Revenue in the pigments business rose 3 percent, the first
rise in seven quarters, driven mainly by a increased demand from
Europe, the company's largest market for the product.
Huntsman bought Rockwood Holdings Inc's pigments
business for $1.1 billion, betting on a turnaround in the market
demand for titanium dioxide, a pigment used to whiten everything
from toothpaste to cars.
A recovery in automobile and housing industries in North
America is boosting demand for the pigment and Huntsman said it
expected prices to be modestly higher in the current quarter and
the third quarter.
"Improvement in volumes and declining inventory levels point
to stabilizing pigment market conditions," UBS analyst John
Roberts said in a note.
Huntsman shut a textile effects facility in Basel,
Switzerland in the fourth quarter and moved production to
"Aggressive self-help measures that have re-focused our
efforts on key markets and lowered our costs are yielding
benefits to the bottom line," Chief Executive Peter Huntsman
said in a statement.
"(Management's efforts) had a greater bottom-line impact
than we had modeled," Macquarie Securities analyst Cooley May
said in a note.
Huntsman expects its restructuring to add about $60 million
to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and
amortization (EBITDA) in the upcoming quarters. Fourth-quarter
EBITDA was $313 million.
Net profit was $41 million, or 17 cents per share, in the
quarter compared with a loss of $40 million, or 17 cents per
share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, Huntsman earned 48 cents per
share, above the analysts average estimate of 37 cents per
share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Total revenue rose 3 percent to $2.71 billion, the second
quarterly increase after five quarters of declines.
Huntsman's shares were up 3 percent at $22.75 in afternoon
trading on the New York Stock Exchange.