DALLAS (AP) ¿ Manufacturing conglomerate Valhi Inc. posted a fourth-quarter profit compared with a year-earlier loss due partly to a rise in selling prices of a key product.

Net income was $28.5 million, or 25 cents per share, compared with a $14.2 million loss, or 12 cents per share, Valhi said Thursday.

Sales of $285.1 million for the quarter ended Dec. 31 were down 19 percent from $353.6 million in the year-earlier period.

Valhi said sales declined in the quarter primarily due to lower sales volumes and the unfavorable impact of changes in foreign currency exchange rates. That was partly offset by higher selling prices for titanium dioxide, a compound used in paint and plastics.

For the full year, Dallas-based Valhi posted an $800,000 loss, or 1 cent per share, narrower than a $45.7 million loss, or 40 cents per share, in 2007.

Sales fell slightly to $1.492 billion from $1.485 billion in 2007.

The company reported lower order rates due to the recession in North America and increased raw material costs. It was offset by the impact of facility consolidation costs in 2007, continuing cost reductions last year and changes in foreign currency exchange rates.

Shares lost 3 cents at $9.13 in late afternoon trading.
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