Sales of polyolefin and chemical catalysts increased compared with the prior-year quarter as a double-digit increase in sales volumes and price partially was offset by unfavorable currency translation. Sales increased approximately 25 percent sequentially driven by strong polyethylene catalyst demand and continued growth of new polypropylene catalyst products.
Segment gross profit was $132.9 million, a decrease of 3.7 percent compared with the prior-year quarter. Segment gross margin was 40.4 percent compared with 41.2 percent in the prior-year quarter and 42.0 percent in the 2012 first quarter. The decrease in gross margin primarily was due to unabsorbed manufacturing costs resulting from the scheduled maintenance turnarounds at two of Grace’s major manufacturing facilities. In anticipation of these turnarounds, the company built inventory in the 2012 first quarter that was liquidated during the second quarter.
Segment operating income was $100.3 million compared with $101.9 million in the prior-year quarter, a 1.6 percent decrease. Segment operating margin was 30.5 percent, an improvement of 10 basis points compared with the prior-year quarter and a decrease of 120 basis points sequentially.
Materials TechnologiesSales down 4.0 percent; segment operating income up 5.9 percent Second quarter sales for the Materials Technologies operating segment, which includes packaging technologies and engineered materials for consumer, industrial, coatings and pharmaceutical applications, were $224.3 million, a decrease of 4.0 percent compared with the prior-year quarter. The decrease was due to unfavorable currency translation (-5.1 percent) and lower sales volumes (-1.3 percent) partially offset by improved pricing (+2.4 percent). Packaging sales decreased compared with the prior-year quarter as strong demand in Asia and the Americas was offset by weaker European volumes and unfavorable currency translation. Engineered materials sales decreased due to unfavorable currency translation and lower sales volumes from demand weakness in mature markets, which more than offset increased sales volumes in Asia.