posted fourth-quarter gains but fell shy of Wall Street targets.
The Midland, Mich., chemicals giant made $1.1 billion, or $1.12 a share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, up from the year-ago $1.03 billion, or $1.06 a share. Sales rose 9% from a year ago to $11.92 billion. Excluding unusual items, earnings rose to $1.02 a share from 85 cents a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were looking for $1.04 a share on revenue of $12 billion.
"This was a tremendous quarter at the end of an outstanding year for Dow," said CEO Andrew Liveris. "In 2005, we realized record sales; we achieved record earnings; we reduced net debt by more than $2.5 billion; and for the third year in a row, with institutionalized financial discipline and operational excellence, we recovered lost margin. The fact that we did so in the face of high and volatile feedstock and energy costs bears testimony to the quality of our people and the strength and consistency of our strategy."
The company didn't offer specific guidance for 2006, but Liveris said, "Our outlook for 2006 is positive, both for the chemical industry and for our company, despite the uncertainty and volatility in feedstock and energy costs. We expect that worldwide demand for chemical and plastic products will continue to grow, led by Asia Pacific, Latin America and other emerging geographies, with solid contributions from North America and Europe. We will continue to focus on the implementation of our strategy, retaining our financial discipline and controlling the things we can control. As we have been saying for some time, we believe that 2006 will be an even better year for Dow than 2005."