UPDATE 1-W.R. Grace profit tops estimates on building products demand

Wednesday, 23 Oct 2013 | 6:57 AM ET

* Third-quarter adj EPS $1.07 vs est $0.99

* Construction products unit sales up 5 pct

Oct 23 (Reuters) - Strong demand for W.R. Grace & Co's construction, packaging and coatings materials helped quarterly profit scrape past analysts' estimates, even as prices of chemical catalysts, its main business, remained low.

Sales jumped 5 percent in its business to make concrete mixtures and fire protection products, to rival the catalyst technologies business as the company's strongest contributing unit in the third quarter.

Sales rose 3 percent rise in its material technologies business, which makes can sealants, coatings and additives.

The catalyst technologies, used to process crude oil and plastics, continued to be hit by lower prices and sales fell about 8 percent in the business.

The company's new catalysts and its recent acquisition of Dow Chemical's polypropylene licensing and catalysts business positioned W.R. Grace for a stronger 2014, Chief Executive Fred Festa said.

Earlier this month W.R. Grace agreed to pay $500 million for Dow Chemical's business, which provides technology and catalysts to make polypropylene, used in manufacturing plastics and synthetic fabrics.

W.R. Grace, which has been stuck in bankruptcy for 12 years, did not give any update on the process, saying emergence from Chapter 11 will depend on the final resolution of all appeals by claimants.

One of the longest bankruptcies in U.S. history, W.R. Grace filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2001 after an asbestos leak at one of its mines led to a slew of lawsuits against it.

The company's net income fell 8 percent to $69.4 million, or 89 cents per share in the latest third quarter, from $75.5 million, or 99 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, it earned $1.07 cents per share.

Revenue fell less than 1 percent to $771.3 million, due to lower prices of catalysts.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 99 cents per share, on revenue of $780.2 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

W.R. Grace shares have risen 34 percent so far this year and closed at $90.64 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

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