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Dow profit surges as prices for chemicals soar on Texas freeze

3 minute read

The Dow logo is seen at the entrance to Dow Chemical headquarters in Midland, Michigan May 14, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Dow Inc's (DOW.N) current-quarter revenue forecast was more than $1 billion above expectations after the company crushed first-quarter estimates on surging prices for its chemicals from tighter supply following a winter freeze in Texas.

Prices jumped 14% in the first quarter from the fourth, helped by gains in consumer packaging and polyurethanes, or flexible foam, used in furniture and bedding, as the supply squeeze came amid demand recovery in some of Dow's end-markets.

The company forecast second-quarter sales between $12.4 billion and $12.9 billion, compared with analysts' average estimate of $11.25 billion, citing a recovery from winter storm Uri and robust demand.

"Despite supply constraints, we saw demand growth as the economic recovery continued to broaden, most notably in packaging, construction, mobility, electronics and consumer durables end-markets," Chief Executive Officer Jim Fitterling said.

A deep freeze in Texas in mid-February caused some damages and hit supplies of raw materials, forcing several U.S. Gulf Coast chemical plants, including those owned by Dow, to halt their operations, hitting production.

Volumes in some of Dow's units were impacted by supply constraints related to the storm.

Dow said it brought the operations back online within a week and reached pre-storm operating rates by the end of the quarter.

"With an improved macro backdrop and price spikes tied to Uri-related outages, DOW 'made hay while the sun was shining' (or freezing as the case may be)," BMO Capital Markets analyst John McNulty wrote in a note.

However, analysts also cautioned that some of the earnings boost tied to the price increases from the winter storm was not sustainable and that additional capacity coming online later could boost supply and temper prices.

Adjusted net operating income of $1.36 per share, in the three months ended March 31, beat estimates of $1.14, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Net sales of $11.88 billion also topped estimates of $11.09 billion.

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