Dow Swings to Loss, Gives Cautions Outlook

(Updated to include Dow Chemical's 2009 financial outlook and added detail regarding the company's second-quarter sales figures.)

MIDLAND, Mich. ( TheStreet) -- Dow Chemical ( DOW) said Thursday that it swung to a loss in the second quarter largely on charges and a 31% slippage in sales from a year earlier.

The chemical conglomerate reported a net loss of $486 million, or 47 cents a share, against a profit of $762 million, or 81 cents a share, in the year-earlier period.

Net loss from continuing operations was $435 million, or 57 cents a share, in the quarter compared to net income of $776 million, or 81 cents.

Still, after excluding restructuring charges and other items related to its buyout of Rohm & Haas, Dow said it would have earned 5 cents a share. Dow bought Rohm & Hass in April for more than $16 billion, and has since begun the process of cutting costs (and jobs) and selling assets.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected the company to post a loss of 8 cents a share.

Top-line results also fell short of expectations as sales dropped to $11.32 billion from $16.35 billion last year. Wall Street expected revenue at $13.02 billion.

Sales slid across all of the company's business segments on slumping demand, volume, and pricing. But Dow also slashed the cost of sales by a third since last year and noted that, sequentially from the previous, its revenue grew by 5%.

Looking ahead, Dow CEO Andrew Liveris gave a cautious assessment of the future.

"The economic outlook for the rest of 2009 appears to be stabilizing with strong growth in Asia Pacific, especially China, where domestic stimulus programs have created demand," Liveris said in a press release.

"In our view, the United States economy has found bottom, but will be slow in recovering as unemployment continues to be a drag on consumer spending. Therefore, our 2009 operating plan does not count on material improvements in market conditions for the remainder of the year."

Separately, Dow said it reached an agreement to sell its stake in Malaysian chemical concern Optimal to Petronas for $660 million.

Earlier in the day, German chemicals concern BASF, the largest chemical company in the world, also reported a downturn in earnings and sales, while forecasting a somber near-term outlook.

In pre-market trading, Dow shares were moving at $20.10, down 11 cents from their regular session close on Wednesday.

-- Reported by Sung Moss in New York

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