Dow Chemical adds more assets to 'for sale' list

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 23, 2014 7:09 AM

By Swetha Gopinath

(Reuters) - Dow Chemical Co DOW.N said it would raise about $1 billion from the sale of corporate assets such as rail cars and that it was reviewing joint ventures, part of a plan to raise as much as $6 billion through asset sales.

The company's shares rose 3 percent to a nine-year high after the company also reported better-than-expected profit and revenue, helped by higher sales across its six businesses.

Dow and rival DuPont DD.N are facing increasing investor pressure to divest less lucrative businesses and return more money to shareholders.

Dow, which makes everything from insecticides to plastics, has already earmarked its epoxy business and some chlorine and derivatives assets for sale. It is also looking to sell parts of its functional materials and performance materials units.

The company on Wednesday added real estate and other infrastructure such as rail cars and terminals to its "for sale" list, and said it would review its 86 joint ventures.

"We are reviewing every aspect of our joint venture portfolio, identifying opportunities to release even further value and returning this value to our shareholders," Chief Executive Andrew Liveris said on a post-earning call.

Dow's petroleum-based joint ventures probably don't meet the company's finiancial objective of 5 percent organic revenue growth, said UBS analyst John Roberts, picking the ME Global and Equate ventures in Kuwait as potential laggards.

The company said it expects to more than $500 million in the next six months by selling its rail cars alone, which Roberts said could be related to the carve out of the chlorine business.

Dow Chemical's shares rose 3.3 percent to a nine-year high of $54.05 in midday trading.

Warren Buffett holds $3 billion of Dow's preferred shares, which the company can convert to equity if its stock price exceeds $53.72 for any 20 out of 30 consecutive trading days.


Activist investor Daniel Loeb has urged Dow to separate its commoditized raw materials businesses from its specialty chemicals operations - demands Dow has repeatedly rejected saying that keeping the businesses together helps curb costs.

However, the company has said it may look at restructuring its feedstocks and energy unit, a business that Loeb wants Dow to separate.

"It is clear to us that the feedstock piece of it can be crafted differently," Liveris told Reuters.

The unit, along with the agriculture business, were the only two divisions where margins fell in the quarter ended June 30. Margins rose at its four other units, aided in part by lower costs for ethane, used in making ethylene and plastics.

"It was a solid quarter all around and I think it caught some people by surprise because of the leverage they saw to commodity prices," said Stephen Hoedt, an analyst with Key Private Bank.

Dow's adjusted profit rose to 74 cents per share, beating Wall Street's expectations by two cents.

The 2 percent rise in revenue to $14.92 billion was slightly better than expected.

(Editing by Maju Samuel, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Savio D'Souza)