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Westlake Chemical net income drops in Q1

May '08
Westlake Chemical Corporation reported net income of $5.4 million, or $0.08 per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2008. This represents a decrease from the first quarter of 2007 net income of $19.7 million, or $0.30 per diluted share. Sales for the first quarter of 2008 were $915.1 million and income from operations for the first quarter of 2008 was $13.9 million. This compares with net sales of $718.8 million and income from operations of $32.7 million in the first quarter 2007.

The increase in sales is primarily the result of higher selling prices for all of the major olefins and vinyls products. Income from operations, however, decreased in the first quarter as compared to the first quarter of 2007 due to lower margins resulting from significantly higher feedstock costs.

Industry prices for ethane increased over 70% while industry prices for propane increased over 50% in the first quarter of 2008 as compared to the first quarter of 2007. Natural gas and electricity costs also increased significantly year over year. The Vinyls segment was further impacted by the continued weakness in the construction markets and seasonal slowdowns in the first quarter of 2008.

In addition to these reductions, the first quarter was negatively impacted by a turnaround at the styrene plant in Lake Charles, Louisiana and the closure of the Pawling, New York window and door component manufacturing facility. The styrene plant was down for 45 days during the quarter and underwent a major maintenance turnaround and revamp project designed to increase energy efficiency and minimally increase capacity.

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