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Chemical company FMC Corporation’s (FMC - Analyst Report) third-quarter 2012 adjusted earnings (excluding one-time items) came in at 79 cents per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny and exceeding the year-ago earnings of 69 cents.

Profit, as reported, rose 3.7% year over year to $90 million (or 65 cents a share) as healthy results from the company’s core Agricultural Products segment led to higher revenues in the quarter.

Sales rose 5% year over year to $902.4 million in the quarter on strength in the agricultural products business. But it missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $929 million.

Revenues from the Agricultural Products division climbed 11% year over year to $423.6 million, driven by healthy performances across Latin America and North America. Segment profit jumped 23% year over year, boosted by higher volumes.   

Specialty Chemicals segment’s sales rose 4% to $226.3 million in the quarter. Higher selling prices were offset by unfavorable currency impact (due to the weak euro) in the BioPolymer business and lower volume in the Lithium business. Profit, however, dipped 8% due to weakness in the Lithium business.

Revenues from the Industrial Chemicals unit fell 4% to $254.2 million as a decline in volume in Alkali business and negative currency impact in Peroxygens more than offset higher selling prices. Profit rose just 1% as higher selling prices were, in part, masked by lower volumes.

The company exited the third quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $84.4 million, down 23% year over year. Long-term debt increased roughly 50% year over year to $811 million.

For the fourth quarter, FMC Corp. expects adjusted earnings to be in the range of 75 cents to 85 cents per share. For 2012, the company continues to expect adjusted earnings to be in the band of $3.42 to $3.52 per share.

FMC Corp. is a leading diversified chemical company that serves agricultural, industrial, environmental and consumer markets across the globe. It is a leading maker of Lithium-based materials for primary and rechargeable batteries used in laptops, cellular phones and electric cars.

FMC Corp. faces tough competition from companies like The Dow Chemical Company (DOW - Analyst Report), Monsanto Company (MON - Analyst Report) and E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DD - Analyst Report). It currently retains a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold).

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