W.R. Grace 4Q profit jumps 29 pct as prices rise

W.R. Grace & Co. on Wednesday said that its fourth-quarter profit rose 29 percent, driven by higher prices and sales volume.

The Columbia-based chemical maker said net income rose to $58.1 million, or 77 cents per share, for the three months ended Dec. 31 compared with $44.9 million, or 60 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.

Sales rose 19 percent to $825.6 million from $693 million a year earlier. The company attributed the increase mainly to improved pricing, and said sales volume rose slightly as well. Sales in emerging regions rose more than 14 percent, the company said.

Some of the gains were offset by higher raw materials costs.

For the year, the company posted net income of $269.4 million, or $3.57 per share, up from $207.1 million, or $2.78 per share, for all of 2010. Revenue jumped to $3.21 billion from $2.68 billion for 2010.

In 2012, Grace expects sales in the range of $3.25 billion to $3.35 billion

The results sent Grace’s shares up by as much as 4.6 percent Wednesday before they ended the day at $54.32, up 78 cents, or nearly 1.5 percent. Grace’s shares gained 31 percent in 2011.

The results were released one day after the company said it reached an agreement with representatives of several key players regarding its plan to resolve its asbestos-related liabilities at its main U.S. operating subsidiary and 61 other U.S. units. The subsidiaries have been in bankruptcy since 2001.