Dow Chemical Beats Street Estimates on Lower Sales
Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW – $50.60) reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as its focus on high-margin businesses that cater to packaging and electronics industries helped balance the impact of a strong dollar. Dow said first-quarter sales fell nearly 15% to $12.37 billion due to the strong dollar and fall in oil prices. Analysts on average had expected sales of $13.04 billion. Net income shot up 45% to $1.39 billion, and adjusted net profits per share was $0.84 vs. $0.79 last year and ahead of the consensus of $0.76 .Dow, which has been shedding its low-margin commodity businesses, said in March it would sell parts of its century-old chlorine business to Olin Corp for $5 billion, helping it exceed its target of raising $7 – $8.5 billion from divestitures. The company, however, has not agreed to activist investor Dan Loeb’s demand to spin-off its low-margin petrochemical businesses, arguing that keeping its units together helps save costs. This issue offers worthwhile total return potential for the coming years given the company’s 3.4% dividend yield and decent growth prospects. However, Dow’s exposure to the commodities markets and the global economy adds a measure of risk that may not be suitable for the faint of heart. But for those willing to venture on longer-term growth and continued dividend increases, shares of Dow can be held in an aggressive account.