Baton Rouge-based Albemarle Corp. reported second-quarter earnings of $114.2 million, or $1.23 per share, a nearly 40 percent jump over a year ago and the specialty chemicals maker’s second consecutive quarter of record profits.
Stock analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had estimated second-quarter earnings of $1.12 per share. Albemarle’s earnings for the same period in 2010 were $81.8 million, or 89 cents per share.
“Fantastic quarter. Second record quarter in a row,” said Todd Vencil, an analyst with Richmond, Va.-based Davenport & Co. Davenport or its affiliates own 1 percent or more of Albemarle’s stock.
All three of Albemarle’s operating segments exceeded expectations on revenue and income, Vencil said. Albemarle also got a little bit of help from a lower-than-expected tax rate, which added about a nickel per share to earnings.
The company’s polymer solutions and fine chemistry segments both reported record sales and income, mainly as a result of better prices.
Polymer solutions rang up sales of $290.5 million, a 23 percent increase over the same period a year ago. The segment generated $77.2 million in income, a 64 percent jump over the second quarter of 2010. The segment produces fire retardants used in the plastic in consumer electronics, printed circuit boards, electrical connectors, and foam cushions in furniture and automobiles.
The fine chemistry segment had second-quarter sales of $184.8 million, a 31 percent increase over the same period in 2010, while the segment’s income was $37.4 million, more than double the $17.5 million a year earlier. This segment makes products used in water treatment, food production and high-tech cleaning.
The catalysts segment generated net sales of $266.9 million in the second quarter, a 24 percent increase over the second quarter of 2010, mainly because of higher prices and higher volumes. The segment’s income was $65.6 million in the second quarter of 2011, just slightly lower than the $66.2 million from a year earlier. The segment includes products used to increase the amount of gasoline produced from a barrel of oil, reducing sulfur levels in fuels and speeding chemical reactions.
Vencil said he expects Albemarle will continue to benefit from better prices, in part because of a tight supply globally of bromines.
Bromine is used to make a variety of products, including pharmaceuticals, flame retardants, water treatment chemicals, insect repellents and perfumes.
Meanwhile, Vencil cautioned investors against putting too much emphasis on Albemarle’s usual warning that business is expected to slow in the fourth quarter.
“Some people would see that as Albemarle saying things are slowing down. I don’t read it that way at all,” Vencil said. “They tell us this every year. They remind people every year, that the fourth quarter is a little bit slower than the rest of the year .... I think any focus on that as a negative would be completely wrongheaded.”
Albemarle released its earnings after the markets closed Thursday. The company’s stock closed at $69.91, up $1.80 per share.