Dutch coatings and specialty chemicals giant Akzo Nobel NV (>> AKZO NOBEL) Thursday said the economic environment and certain raw materials remain the principal sensitivities in 2012, as it reported a dramatic fall in first-quarter net profit.
The company said price increases failed to mitigate the impact of rising raw materials costs in full and net profit fell 45% to EUR71 million, below forecasts of EUR99.4 million, as it booked restructuring costs for its Decorative Paints division and a provision for an environmental case in Sweden. Revenue rose 5.6% to EUR3.97 billion, surpassing analysts' forecasts of EUR3.85 billion.
At its Decorative Paints division, revenue rose 3.8% to EUR1.24 billion due to margin improvement in weak markets, while volumes in North America were down. Performance Coatings revenue was up 11% to EUR1.37 billion, boosted by acquisition effects, and Specialty Chemicals revenue rose 3.6% to EUR1.4 billion.
Incoming chief executive Ton Buechner will take the helm at the company's annual general meeting on April 23. Buechner will be tasked with streamlining Akzo Nobel's central operations and boosting profitability after he takes over from Hans Wijers.
Earlier this month, competitors PPG Industries Inc. (>> PPG Industries, Inc.) and Sherwin-Williams Co. (SHW) upgraded their expectations for first-quarter earnings per share. PPG, which will release its first-quarter results later Thursday, said it saw the "overall pace of business activity improve compared with the fourth quarter of 2011."
Sherwin-Williams, which reports first-quarter earnings on May 9, has also indicated that the U.S. coatings market in the first quarter performed better than expected due to volume and price increase effects.
Akzo Nobel shares closed Wednesday at EUR43.14.
-By Robert van den Oever, Dow Jones Newswires; +31205715201; firstname.lastname@example.org
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