Friday, May 10, 2013

Weak Demand for Key Solar Product Dents Air Products

Air Products & Chemicals Inc's (APD.N) quarterly profit narrowly missed expectations, partly due to weak demand for a solar product, and the industrial gas producer said Friday that its chief financial officer will retire.

The glut of supply affecting the global solar market is denting sales of silane, an industrial gas used to help apply silicon to glass inside solar panels.

Air Products recorded a $127 million, after-tax charge during the quarter as it canceled a silane supply agreement. Across the industry, supply should exceed demand "for the foreseeable future," the company said.

The charge dented quarterly earnings by 59 cents per share.

Seeking to reassure Wall Street, Chief Executive John McGlade said he will focus on improving the unit selling the silane gas and other products to electronics customers.

McGlade, though, expects Air Products to earn $1.26 per share to $1.31 per share for the October-through-December quarter, below the $1.37 analysts have expected.

"We are starting our 2013 fiscal year with weak economic momentum worldwide," McGlade said in a statement. "Our focus will be on taking actions in the areas that we believe can have the greatest impact on improving margins and returns."

For the fourth quarter ended September 30, the company posted net income of $138.7 million, or 64 cents per share, compared with $324.8 million, or $1.51 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding the solar-related charge and other one-time items, Air Products earned $1.42 during the period.

By that measure, analysts had expected earnings of $1.43 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 4 percent to $2.61 billion. Analysts had expected $2.51 billion in revenue.

CFO Paul Huck, 62, will retire on February 28 and be replaced by Scott Crocco. Huck has been with Air Products for 33 years.

Crocco, 48, is currently the company's controller.

Shares of Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Air Products have slipped 3.5 percent in the past 6 months, closing Thursday at $85.35.


No comments: