MIDLAND, Michigan (

TheStreet

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Dow Chemical

(DOW) - Get Dow, Inc. Report

said it topped analysts' estimates with adjusted earnings of 82 cents a share in the first quarter as profit margins expanded, and sales and volume increased.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected Dow, the chemicals maker, to earn 67 cents a share.

Excluding items, first-quarter earnings were $952 million, or 82 cents a share, versus $491 million, or 43 cents a share, a year earlier. Net earnings were $625 million, or 54 cents a share, compared with year-earlier earnings of $466 million, or 41 cents a share.

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Sales jumped 20% to $14.7 billion. Dow highlighted record sales of $1.6 billion at its health and agricultural division.

Dow said volume rose 8% from the same quarter of 2010, with gains across all geographic areas and operating segments.

"Our focus on execution was clear as we drove significant sales increases across all geographies and all operating segments through rigorous price and volume discipline," said Andrew Liveris, Dow's chairman and CEO, in a press release.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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