Profit drops at Koppers Holdings in first quarter

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First-quarter profit fell nearly 30 percent at Koppers Holdings Inc. as a result of lower sales and prices in its chemicals products segment, weak business in Europe and a higher tax rate.

The Downtown Pittsburgh-based company that makes carbon chemicals and treated wood products reported profit of $11 million, or 53 cents per share, down from $15.6 million, or 75 cents per share in the first quarter of 2012.

First-quarter sales dropped 3 percent to $370.4 million mainly because of declines in the chemicals unit.

But sales in the railroad and utility products segment rose 6 percent on higher volumes for railroad cross ties and higher volumes and prices for utility poles, according to the company's earnings statement.

Adjusted profit not including after-tax charges and discontinued operations was $11.2 million, or 54 cents per share, down from $15.5 million, or 74 cents per share a year ago.

Analysts on average had forecast adjusted earnings of 64 cents.

Koppers' chairman Walter Turner in a statement called the first quarter "rather challenging" because of the struggling European economy.

Even though the railroad and utility business had a strong performance, "the overall results for the quarter ended at the low end of our expectations," Mr. Turner said.

The company is undertaking cost-saving initiatives and productivity improvements which he said should "position us to have the strongest earnings in our history."

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Joyce Gannon: or 412-263-1580.

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