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Albemarle 1Q profit falls 26 pct as business slows

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Specialty chemical maker Albemarle Corp. on Wednesday said its first-quarter net income dropped more than 26 percent, as business was slow in some segments. It also warned that orders remain weak for products used for consumer electronics, construction, and European autos.

The company earned almost $84 million, or 94 cents per share, for the quarter that ended March 31. That was down from $114.3 million, or $1.27 per share, during the same period a year earlier.

Revenue fell 10 percent to $641.6 million, from $711.7 million a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet, on average, were expecting a profit of $1 per share on revenue of $677.4 million.

Revenue in its largest business, its catalysts segment, fell 20 percent to $235.5 million because of lower metals surcharges, a less-profitable mix of products, and lower volumes. Profit in that segment dropped 32 percent from a year ago, to $57 million.

"First quarter results matched our expectation that 2013 would begin the year slowly," said CEO Luke Kissam.

The company said demand was strong for drilling fluids.

Albemarle shares fell $1.37, or 2.2 percent, to close at $60.24 before the results were released. The stock was not trading aftermarket.