Friday, April 30, 2004

Dow Chemical Co. says 3,000 more to lose jobs

Company reports increased first-quarter profits

By Sarah Karush
The Associated Press

DETROIT - Dow Chemical Co. plans to cut 3,000 jobs this year, a 6.5 percent cut in its global work force, company officials said Thursday.

The Midland-based company, which has 46,000 employees, said it will make the cuts through reorganizations, attrition, shutdowns and divestitures.

The move follows last year's cut of more than 3,500 jobs, "in the spirit of continuous productivity improvement," chief financial officer J. Pedro Reinhard said in a conference call with investors.

The disclosure came as the chemical giant posted a first-quarter profit that was six times higher than last year, saying improvements in price, volume and productivity outweighed nearly $100 million in energy and raw-material costs.

Despite the profit increase, Reinhard said the company was continuing to cut jobs and shed assets after dismal results in 2002 resulting from merger- and asbestos-related costs. The company also faces rising costs for feedstock and energy, Reinhard said.

More than 3,500 jobs were cut last year; 350 jobs were shed in the first quarter of 2004, Reinhard said.

Dow spokeswoman Leslie Hatfield said she could not say what jobs in which locations were being eliminated.

Dow Chemical said its profits rose to $469 million, or 50 cents a share, in the first quarter compared with $76 million, or 8 cents a share, during the same period last year.

Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson First Call had predicted earnings of 43 cents per share.

Sales increased 15 percent to $9.3 billion, based almost equally on gains in price and volume, the company said. Dow Chemical closed at $39.67, down $1.25.

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