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W.R. Grace shares jump on strong 2nd-quarter profit

Net income at W.R. Grace & Co. jumped by nearly 50 percent in the second quarter on strong sales and better prices, the chemical maker said Tuesday.

That beat Wall Street profit predictions, and the Columbia-based company boosted its sales outlook for the year.

Grace’s shares jumped $5.83, or 12.7 percent, to close Tuesday at $51.65 on the news.

Quarterly profit reached $75.8 million, or $1 per share, up from $51 million, or 69 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Analysts expected a profit of 89 cents per share, according to a FactSet survey.

Revenue rose 21 percent to $826 million from $685 million, mainly as a result of improved pricing and favorable currency exchange rates, the company said.

Sales at the company’s Grace Davison operating segment, which includes specialty catalysts and materials used in a wide range of industrial applications, rose 25 percent to $568.6 million. Meanwhile, sales at its Grace Construction Products division, which includes specialty construction chemicals and building materials, rose 12 percent to $257.8 million.

Grace said it expects its 2011 sales to total between $3.25 billion and $3.3 billion, up from its February prediction of $2.85 billion to $2.95 billion.

Grace said it still expects to generate significant U.S. federal net operating losses when it exits Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company sought bankruptcy protection in April 2001 in order to resolve its asbestos-related liabilities.

Grace’s reorganization plan was confirmed by a bankruptcy court in January, but still must be affirmed by a U.S. District court. A hearing was held late last month, but the court has yet to rule.