This compares with $48 million, or $.22 per share for the same period in 2001. The $.41 per share first quarter 2002 figure is three cents above financial analysts' expectations of $.38 per share, as reported by First Call on a comparable basis. Net earnings for the first quarter of $.36 per share included $.05 per share for plant dismantlement and other costs associated with the ongoing restructuring effort, and other non-recurring items. Net earnings were up 25 percent from the $.29 per share reported for the comparable period in 2001.
"Our profitability in the first quarter was powered by ongoing efforts to improve product mix and reduce our cost structure, along with help from raw material costs and interest expense that were down from last year's levels." Gupta noted there were favorable signs in the sequential improvement in sales during the first three months of the year. "We saw a modest return in demand for the technically advanced products in Electronic Materials, and signs of a reasonable start to the North American painting season which benefited our Coatings business," he said. A slightly lower corporate tax rate contributed $.01 per share