PPG profit up, helped by coatings sales

Chemical and paint maker PPG Industries Inc. on Wednesday reported a 13 percent rise in profit as higher sales offset pension costs and an asbestos settlement.A 3 percent rise in coatings revenue was driven by higher paint and sealant demand from customers.

The increase, along with rising sales of chemicals and glass, bolstered total revenue to $1.99 billion from $1.91 billion a year ago, PPG said.

The company, which operates plants worldwide, also said sales got a boost from strengthening foreign currencies.

Nonetheless, fourth-quarter earnings reflected lowered expectations, which the maker of auto and aircraft paint announced in November amid a manufacturing slowdown. At the time, PPG said sales and earnings would rise, but less than previously expected.

Pittsburgh-based PPG, which has cut jobs and closed plants during the past year's downturn, reported net income rose of $94 million, or 55 cents a share, up from $83 million, or 49 cents a share, the year-ago period.

Net income would have been 11 cents a share higher if not for ongoing pension and medical costs, the company said. PPG also took a fourth-quarter charge of $4 million, or 2 cents a share, to set aside money for an asbestos settlement.

Excluding the charge, PPG earned 57 cents a share. On that basis Wall Street expected PPG to earn between 55 cents and 60 cents a share. But those estimates had been lowered to reflect the company's scaled back forecast from November.

The company also expects a "challenging" business climate this year but plans to keep reducing debt.

Meanwhile, chemical sales climbed 13 percent, helped by volume increases and higher prices, which offset rising energy costs. Glass sales increased slightly.

PPG shares rose 96 cents, or 1.85 percent, to $52.81 in early-afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

600450 PPG profit up, helped by coatings sales glassonweb.com

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