PPG Industries 1Q profit up from a year ago
By John D. Oravecz
Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013, 9:15 a.m.
Change at PPG Industries Inc. will continue as it sharpens a focus on paint, optical and specialty products more than ever, CEO Charles E. Bunch said on Thursday.
The company will continue to look for “prudent” acquisitions this year “to accelerate profitable growth” in those businesses, he said, as former mainstay glass and chemical units move into the past.
“We are truly a different company today than a year ago,” Bunch told shareholders at the Pittsburgh company's annual shareholders meeting.
Recent acquisitions and divestitures were another “important step in our transformation,” Bunch said at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Those deals include:
• The $2.2 billion sale of PPG's commodity chemicals business, which produces chlorine, caustic soda and other chemicals, to Georgia Gulf Corp., with the combined company renamed Axiall Corp.
• The $1.05 billion acquisition of AkzoNobel N.V.'s North American architectural coatings business. With brand names like Glidden paints and Liquid Nails, it is the main supplier of paints to Wal-Mart. The purchase on April 1 was the second-largest in PPG's history.
• And last week's agreement to buy waterborne and chrome-free coating technology from Deft Inc. of Irvine, Calif., for an undisclosed price, a deal that will strengthen PPG's aerospace coatings business.
Paint, or coatings in PPG terms, now accounts for 85 percent of the company's total sales, which were $15.2 billion in 2012, up from 54 percent in 2001. Optical and specialty products account for 8 percent of sales. And glass, upon which the former Pittsburgh Plate Glass was founded in 1883, how accounts for 7 percent, down from 27 percent a decade ago. Chemicals, which a year ago accounted for 12 percent, are gone with the Axiall deal.
The company has changed “from a diversified industrial supplier to the leading coatings and specialty products company,” Bunch said.
Meanwhile, PPG reported first-quarter profit from continuing operations of $219 million, or $1.48 a share, on sales of $3.3 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected per-share earnings of $1.54 on sales of $3.44 billion.
A year ago, PPG reported net income of $13 million, or 8 cents a share, which was affected by restructuring and environmental expenses. Sales for the year-ago quarter were a reported $3.8 billion.
“During the quarter, we delivered strong performance in our coatings portfolio, as we grew aggregate coatings segment earnings by 13 percent versus last year's record level,” said Bunch.
The board of directors approved a 2 cents a share increase in PPG's quarterly dividend to 61 cents, payable June 12.
A long-standing rule that requires a super majority to make changes that govern the board likely will remain in place.
A proposal from shareholder John Chevedden of Redondo Beach, Calif., that PPG's board consider steps to change super majority — 80 percent of the outstanding common stock — to a simple majority, was approved by shareholders.
But there's a wrinkle — it will take a super majority vote to change PPG's super majority rule — if the company's board decides to place the proposal on next year's annual meeting agenda for a formal vote.
The next step, according to PPG assistant corporate secretary Greg E. Gordon, will be for the board to decide if the change is in the best interests of shareholders. Because the proposal won 78 percent of votes cast on Thursday, they “probably will” put it on next year's agenda, he said.
But getting 80 percent to pass it will be hard, Gordon said. He pointed to a New York Stock Exchange rule that says stock brokers cannot vote on “non-routine matters.” Brokers hold shares for their clients and vote when shareholders do not.
Such a non-routine matter — to change PPG's articles of incorporation to elect directors annually — was defeated on Thursday because it did not receive a super majority. Shareholders cast 68 percent of PPG's shares in favor of the change, but it needed 80 percent. Brokers' non-vote was the difference, Gordon said. Currently, PPG directors are elected to three-year terms.
John D. Oravecz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7882 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pandora sued by record companies
- Chocolate prices expected to soar as ingredients grow more expensive
- Investment in Western Pa. startups reaches 5-year high
- Squeezed by competition, Chobani to expand offerings
- Shale pioneer hires Chesapeake for drilling job
- Mazda recalls 109,000 older SUVs
- Pa. unemployment rate falls to lowest since 2008; 12,000 more enter workforce
- How’s your doctor doing? Comparison shop online
- Under the Hood: A chance to take top cars for a spin
- Chrysler’s Easter eggs fun for vehicle owners
- Jetta Value is easy on wallet, fuel