Dow Chemical

(DOW) - Get Report

reported a fourth-quarter loss of $1.55 billion, or $1.68 a share, compared with earnings a year earlier of $472 million, or 49 cents a share.

Excluding items in both periods, the loss in the latest quarter was 62 cents a share compared with earnings of 84 cents.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected Dow to report fourth-quarter earnings of 6 cents a share.

Fourth-quarter sales fell 23%, and volume declined 17% and was down in all operating segments and in all geographic areas, "reflecting the global economic downturn as well as the de-stocking that occurred through most value chains," the company said Tuesday

The latest quarter included after-tax charges of $978 million, or $1.06 a share, related to restructuring, among other things.

"As we enter 2009 we are assuming that the late 2008 demand levels will continue for several quarters and possibly beyond," said Andrew Liveris, Dow's chairman and CEO. The company said most of its value chains are "running at very low inventory levels."

Liveris said the company is planning for a global recession throughout 2009.