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W.R. Grace reported 4.5 percent increase in earnings

W.R. Grace reported 4.5 percent increase in earnings

W.R. Grace & Co. reported Thursday that its first quarter earnings rose 4.5 percent despite falling oil prices and the strengthening on the U.S. dollar.

The Columbia-based specialty chemical maker made $52.7 million in the three months ended March 31, up from $50.4 million a year earlier. Per share earnings rose to 72 cents from 64 cents.

Grace's $720.6 million of sales in the January-to March period were 3.2 percent lower than in the first quarter of 2014. While sales volume increased, shifting exchange rates acted as a drag on the value of those sales.

"We are on track to meet our 2015 goals," said Fred Festa, Grace's chairman and CEO. "We achieved...

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