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Dow Chemical (DOW-N) narrowly missed Wall Street's quarterly profit expectations as cost increases and economic worries dented demand in Europe and North America.
Dow raised prices during the third quarter to offset a $1.7 billion US increase in raw material costs, a step that brought flat volume growth globally. The results on Thursday show that for at least some of customers, the price hikes were too much.
"There was just so much panic in the marketplace, which clearly must have created conservation on the part of a variety of product buyers," said Hassan Ahmed, a chemical industry analyst at Alembic Global Advisors. "Economic theory dictates that as you elevate pricing there will be some sort of demand response."
Dow's shares were up in morning trading with the broader market after a deal was struck to resolve the euro zone debt crisis, which had weighed on much of the economy during the third quarter.
Latin America and Asia were bright spots for Dow, where volume rose 7 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
"If you look at a company like Dow, North America and Europe are just several regional legs in a global strategy," said The Valence Group's Peter Hall, who advises chemical companies. "What we used to refer to as 'emerging markets' really now has emerged and is a major part of the overall sales mix."
Dow reported net income of $815 million, or 69 cents per share, compared with $512 million, or 45 cents per share, in the year-ago period.
Excluding an unexpected gain when a joint venture partner repaid a loan that Dow had previously written off, the company earned 62 cents per share.
By that measure, analysts expected earnings of 63 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 17 percent to $15.11 billion. Analysts expected $14.63 billion.
Dow's agricultural unit posted a surprising operating profit for the quarter, a contrast with rival DuPont (DD-N) which posted a loss in its ag unit.
Operating profit in the coatings and infrastructure unit only fell 3 percent, despite the weak U.S. housing market.
In the electronics and functional ingredient unit, which sells parts to semiconductor makers, operating profit jumped 11 percent.