Dow Chemical Profit Falls, Misses Estimates

Dow Chemical said Tuesday that fourth-quarter earnings fell 52 percent, hurt by weak U.S. housing and auto markets, spiraling energy and raw material costs, and one-time restructuring charges.

The largest U.S. chemical maker reported net income of $472 million, or 49 cents a share, down from $975 million, or $1 a share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, earnings fell to 84 cents a share from 98 cents. Analysts on average had forecast 80 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

The Midland, Mich.-based company recorded restructuring charges of $590 million for the quarter. Last month, Dow announced it would shut some plants and eliminate about 1,000 jobs to cut costs and direct capital toward businesses with better growth prospects.

But the company expressed optimism about its future.

"We believe we've become an earnings growth company for the first time in our history. We're breaking the economic cycle associated with our industry through our joint venture strategy," Andrew Liveris, Dow president and CEO, said on "Squawk Box. "We don't give guidance, but I will tell you we've said we will not only earn the cost of our capital at the next industry trough...but we'll earn well north of it."

The latest results also included a $113 million reduction in the provision for income taxes due to a change in the legal ownership structure of a joint venture.

Revenue rose 16 percent to $14.23 billion, spurred by strong volume gains in Latin America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Wall Street had forecast $13.21 billion.

"For 2008, there is some uncertainty in the economic outlook for the United States," Liveris said in a statement.

But he added that Dow's global reach would help the company increase sales in the developing markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Dow is focused on improving earnings growth and consistency, mainly through joint ventures. Last month, it announced a large joint-venture agreement with a unit of Kuwait Petroleum.

KPC's Petrochemical Industries Co will pay Dow $9.5 billion to contribute five of the U.S. company's businesses, which are worth about $19 billion, to a 50-50 joint venture.

But the long-awaited deal has not excited investors, and Dow shares have fallen 16.5 percent over the last three months, compared with a 4.5 percent drop in the Standard & Poor's Chemical Index.