Income · Stocks to Consider and Updates

Dow Chemical Profit Surges; Hikes Dividend

DOWThe Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW – $49.83) unveiled a number of moves to reshape its business and leadership team, as the company reported earnings for the third quarter that easily topped Wall Street expectations. Dow named James R. Fitterling its operations chief. Mr. Fitterling and Howard Ungerleider, the company’s financial chief, were both named vice-chairmen. The company, which has been reshaping its business over the past few years, said it would restructure its joint ventures in Kuwait over the next nine months. Dow said it would receive $1.5 billion in pretax proceeds by reducing its ownership in the MEGlobal venture. The company also said it would review options for its Dow AgroSciences business. The comments came as Dow reported better-than-expected earnings for its latest quarter. Excluding certain items, per-share operating earnings were $0.82 compared to $0.72 a year earlier. Analysts expected Dow to post per share earnings of $0.69. Profit was lifted by a $621 million gain from the sale of its AgroFresh business. Sales slid 16%, however, to $12.04 billion, hurt by pricing and currency and below analysts’ estimates of $12.38 billion. The Midland, Michigan-based company, which manufactures products ranging from insecticides to paint to plastics and films, also said it boosted its quarterly dividend by 10% to 46 cents a share and will accelerate its $5 billion stock-buyback program. Improving momentum in several key markets should provide support, along with Dow’s favorable cost structure. Looking further out, I expect healthy earnings improvement for the company to late decade. At present, this issue – yielding 3.7% on the new payout – offers good, albeit speculative, long-term total return potential out to late decade.


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