Midland, Michigan - Dow Chemical's first-quarter sales were down 2% in 2013, totalling $14.4 billion, while earnings (adjusted EBITDA) grew 10% year-on-year, reaching $2.3 billion.
In the performance materials business, which includes Dow's polyurethanes business, sales were 3.3 billion, down 4% versus the year-ago period. Earnings were $440 million, up from $332 million in Q1 2012. Volume declined 5%, while prices rose 1%, Dow said in its 25 April first-quarter report.
The chemicals company said "notable price improvements" were achieved in the polyurethanes and formulated systems businesses. However, Dow said lower volumes were reported in the polyurethanes business, as it "aggressively pursued price to improve underlying profitability."
In a 25 April conference call to discuss the results, Dow chairman Andrew Liveris said that in polyurethane, the company was taking strategic steps to "upgrade our margins with the startup of our propylene glycol facility in Asia."
Commenting on the company's outlook, Liveris noted, "We have previously stated that our business plans did not call for material macroeconomic improvements in 2013 versus 2012. Given persistent volatility and uncertainty, this remains the right mindset for operating the company."
He added that the company was focused on driving aggressive measures throughout the year.