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Millennium Chemicals earns 75 cents a share, 4 cents over forecast


Millennium Chemicals Inc., which employs 800 to 900 people in the Baltimore area, reported second-quarter net income yesterday of $48 million, even with last year's second-quarter results.

However, second-quarter 1999 results included $37 million in profit resulting from the sale of assets and other one-time gains. The company reported no unusual profit in the quarter that ended June 30.

Earnings per share improved last quarter to 75 cents, up from 69 cents for the comparable quarter in 1999. Those results beat estimates ranging from 46 cents to 71 cents per share by a handful of analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research.

The company, which reported sales of $463 million, up from $406 million last year, has offices in Hunt Valley, a manufacturing plant in South Baltimore and a research facility in northern Anne Arundel County.

The Maryland subsidiary of Millennium Inorganic Chemicals continued its strong performance in the second quarter, with sales of titanium dioxide, its primary product, reaching $353 million, up from $321 million last year. Heavy demand in Asia and Europe drove the increase.

"We are enjoying a very balanced market right now," said Art Seibel, chief financial officer for Inorganic Chemicals in Red Bank, N.J.

The subsidiary is the world's second-largest producer of titanium dioxide, a white pigment used in everything from paint and plastics to toothpaste and candy coatings. Prices for the product have improved overseas because of tight supplies. Seibel said the company is expecting to post strong results in the second half of the year. "There may be some slowdown in the U.S., but markets in Asia and Europe are still very strong."

Wall Street gave the company mixed reviews yesterday. One analyst who previously rated the stock a "buy" downgraded it yesterday to "market perform." However, the stock closed up 37.5 cents a share at $15.3125.

An article in yesterday's Business section about Millennium Chemicals Inc. incorrectly identified the location of the New Jersey company's subsidiary, Millennium Inorganic Chemicals. The subsidiary has offices in Hunt Valley, a manufacturing plant in South Baltimore and a research facility in northern Anne Arundel County.The Sun regrets the error.
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