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Eastman Chemical ups outlook, hits all-time high

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Eastman Chemical climbed to an all-time high on Friday after the specialty chemical company's fourth-quarter adjusted earnings met Wall Street's view and it raised its 2013 earnings forecast.

THE SPARK: After the market closed Thursday, Eastman Chemical Co. reported a fourth-quarter loss of $54 million, or 35 cents per share. That compares with a profit of $12 million, or 9 cents per share, a year earlier.

Removing pension costs, restructuring charges and other items, earnings from continuing operations were $1.19 per share.

Revenue increased 26 percent to $2.17 billion from $1.72 billion.

Analysts, on average, expected earnings of $1.19 per share on revenue of $2.24 billion, according to data provider FactSet.

The company now foresees 2013 earnings from continuing operations in a range of $6.30 to $6.40 per share. Its initial guidance was for earnings of $6.25 per share.

Wall Street expects earnings of $6.32 per share.

THE ANALYSIS: P.J. Juvekar of Citi Investment Research said in a client note that Eastman Chemical had a solid fourth quarter, likely helped by a higher difference between costs and sales prices in its intermediates business.

The analyst kept a "Buy" rating and $80 price target.

Laurence Alexander, an analyst with Jefferies & Co., said the outlook for the year seems cautious. "In particular, the pace of recovery in Europe remains a concern," he wrote in a note to clients. He kept a "Hold" rating and $71 price target.

SHARE ACTION: Eastman Chemical's stock rose $2.520, or 3.5 percent, to $73.67 in late morning trading. Earlier in the session, the shares reached an all-time high of $73.74.