Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What's That About Dow Chemical? Never Mind!

Last week I discussed how an activist investor, Daniel Loeb, was criticizing the business performance of Dow Chemical's plastics segments. And at that point in time, he had a strong argument. Not so today.

Dow Chemical today reported earnings that were up in all segments except feedstocks and energy. The plastics segment in particular, is now carrying their own weight and then some:
"Performance plastics segment adjusted EBITDA [*] was $1.2 billion, up 40% from the same period last year on broad-based pricing gains across all geographies, Dow says. Sales in performance plastics were $3.9 billion, up 5% compared with the same quarter last year. Excluding the impact of divestitures, sales were up 8%, with double-digit gains achieved in Latin America, North America, and Asia Pacific, Dow says. The plastics segment accounted for 57% of adjusted EBITDA in the quarter."(emphasis added)
That's right, 57% of the gross earnings came from the commodity plastics segment! Someone didn't see that coming.

The lesson here is that if you are going to shout your mouth off about how bad a company is, make sure you do it well removed in time from an excellent earnings report. The week before does NOT qualify. On the upside, Mr. Loeb now has strong evidence against any insider trading charges that might ever be made.

[*]EBITDA is Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization.

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