Operating profit for the quarter was $163 million compared with $196 million in the prior year on expanded operating margins in the company's customer-oriented solution businesses which were offset by lower margins in Acetyl Intermediates. The tax rate and diluted share count for adjusted earnings per share in the third quarter were 17 percent and 160.1 million, respectively. Net earnings were $117 million in the third quarter of 2012 compared with the prior year results of $167 million.
Net sales in the third quarter were $1,609 million compared to $1,807 million in the prior year. The company's portfolio of customer-oriented solution businesses delivered increased year-over-year volumes, but the lower sales in the quarter were primarily driven by lower pricing in its Acetyl Intermediates and Industrial Specialties businesses, as well as unfavorable currency impacts across the company.
- Started up the company's technology development unit for ethanol production at its facility in Clear Lake, Texas. The unit will support the company's continuing development of TCX ® ethanol process technology for customers in both industrial-grade and fuel ethanol.
- Announced the company's new CelFX TM matrix technology for filter media. CelFX TM provides a flexible additive platform for innovation that allows our customers increased filter design flexibility, improved constituent reduction and supports a broad choice for enhancement additives.
- Increased the company's share repurchase authorization to $400 million. As of September 30, 2012, the company had $136 million remaining under its previous authorization.
Third Quarter Business Segment OverviewAdvanced Engineered Materials Advanced Engineered Materials delivered sustained results despite the impact of weaker economic conditions in Europe. Net sales were $322 million compared with $332 million in the prior year period. Pricing was up by 3 percent, reflecting the value of its innovative, customer-oriented solutions. Net sales, however, were negatively impacted by unfavorable currency. Stronger volumes in the Americas and Asia were more than offset by softer European demand across the majority of its product lines. Operating EBITDA was $109 million compared with $112 million in the prior year period as the higher pricing was offset by lower equity earnings and currency impacts. Equity earnings from the company's affiliates were $45 million compared with $52 million in the prior year period, driven by lower methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) pricing in the company's Ibn Sina affiliate. Operating profit in the third quarter of 2012 was $43 million compared with $14 million in the same period last year, primarily due to other charges and other adjustments in the third quarter of 2011 related to the company's startup and expansion of its polyacetal (POM) facility in Frankfurt Hoechst Industrial Park, Germany.