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Sales, earnings up for W.R. Grace

The first-time observer may have never known that W.R. Grace & Co. recently emerged from bankruptcy when listening to the company’s report on second-quarter earnings Wednesday.

“I think it has gone much as we expected,” said Rich Badmington, a spokesperson for the company. “Investors who have been paying close attention are not surprised by our progress.”

The main change the company has seen since its emergence was an increased opportunity to partner with other companies, he said.

“The flexibility we have now with a very solid balance sheet and the significant uncertainty removed allows us to focus on our investment alternatives,” said Badmington. “Whether it’s growth or productivity or a share buyback initiative we can make these determinations on the basis of the risk-adjusted opportunity they represent.”

That includes acquisitions, he said, but the bankruptcy didn’t stop those from happening. During its nearly 13-year Chapter 11 protection, Grace acquired 22 companies.

The company’s sales for the quarter were $838 million, up 4 percent from second quarter 2013. Net income increased to $136.2 million, up more than 50 percent from one year before, and earnings per diluted share were $1.77.

Grace’s catalysts division grew sales 7.7 percent during the quarter and grew operating income by 3.9 percent, but that was largely thanks to the acquisition of UNIPOL Polypropylene Process Technology Licensing and Catalysts business from December 2013. Materials technologies also performed well, experiencing a 3.2 percent sales growth and 10.9 percent increase in operating income.

Construction product sales were weakest, up only 1.9 percent, and operating income for that segment was down 0.7 percent. Because of those numbers, the company reduced its growth estimates for the year in that category.

Grace’s stock closed at $92.89 Wednesday, down 3.95 percent.