19 March 2001 23:41 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (CNI)--Air Products and Chemicals said Monday it is revising downward its earnings forecast for the second quarter due to a "sharper than expected" decline in US manufacturing demand for chemicals and industrial gases.
The Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania-based company said it expects earnings from operations for the period ended 31 March of about 53 cent/share, down from analysts' expectations of about 60 cent/share.
The revised earnings estimate excludes a charge of about 10 cent/share "for workforce reduction and asset management costs related to major work process improvement programs primarily in Europe and in the company's chemicals business" Air Products said.
Said John Jones, chairman and chief executive: "Air Products is experiencing short-term impacts from the weakening US economy. Our chemicals business has been severely impacted by customer outages, softness in some end-markets and lower margins as price increases continued to lag raw material cost increases."
Jones said the company's long-term fundamentals remain positive.
He added: "It's been tough to call the bottom of this cycle, but we are confident our chemicals business will rebound and our focused strategies in gases and chemicals will lead to solid future growth. Gases sales to the electronics market and the chemical and processing industries remain strong."
Jones added that uncertainty about the duration of the external factors driving second quarter results "is causing us to be more cautious in our outlook."
The company will announce quarterly earnings 23 April.
Shares of Air Products were up 76 cent to $40.47/share in trading Monday.
Air Products and Chemicals had annual revenues of $5.5bn (Euro6.1bn) last year from operations in 30 countries.
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