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Dow Chemical Tops Estimates

Profits tumble from a year earlier on charges, but the results are better than expected.
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Dow Chemical's (DOW) - Get Dow, Inc. Report fourth-quarter profit slipped 52% from a year earlier, hit by restructuring charges and higher commodity costs.

The results, however, managed to top Wall Street's forecasts, sending shares of the chemical giant up 2% in early trading Tuesday.

Dow Chemical's fourth-quarter earnings tumbled to $472 million, or 49 cents a share, from $975 million, or $1 a share, a year earlier.

Excluding items -- mainly $334 million in restructuring-related charges -- earnings were 84 cents a share. Analysts, on average, anticipated earnings of 80 cents a share, according to Thomson Financial.

Sales rose to $14.23 billion from $12.24 billion the prior year, exceeding Wall Street's $13.09 billion target.

The company said volume was up 4%, with stronger demand overseas offsetting continued softness in North America. Roughly two-thirds of Dow Chemical's sales come from outside the U.S.

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Prices climbed 12% from a year earlier, partially offsetting a 31% jump in feedstock and energy costs.

"This was a good quarter ... a quarter in which our entire organization responded with speed and discipline to an unprecedented run-up in feedstock and energy costs, raising price to mitigate much of the $1.7 billion year-over-year increase. And our focus on price did not come at the expense of volume," said Andrew Liveris, Dow's chairman and chief executive.

Looking ahead, Liveris said Dow's global footprint will help to buttress the company against a domestic slowdown.

"In addition, as we continue to implement our strategy, our focus will be on financial discipline and price/volume management, which, coupled with the strong performance of our joint ventures, is expected to bring another solid year of earnings for Dow," he said.

Shares of Dow Chemical recently were up 88 cents, or 2.3%, to $38.47.

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.