Albemarle Corp. (ALB), the world’s biggest maker of refinery catalysts, climbed the most in more than two years as rising prices for flame retardants helped lift first-quarter sales and earnings to a record.
Albemarle rose $7.05, or 12 percent, to $64.87 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, the biggest gain since November 2008. The shares have increased 16 percent this year.
Net income increased 68 percent to $106.6 million, or $1.15 a share, from $63.3 million, or 69 cents, a year earlier, Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Albemarle said yesterday in a statement. Sales rose 20 percent to $696.5 million. Analysts projected profit of 96 cents, the average of 11 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Analysts also predicted sales of $636.3 million.
The polymer additives unit, which makes flame retardants for electronics, contributed most of the earnings surprise, according to analysts at KeyBanc Capital Markets, Jefferies and Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
The company will earn more than $4 a share this year, exceeding its 2012 earnings forecast a year early, Chief Executive Officer Mark Rohr said on a conference call with analysts today. Profit in 2011 is estimated to be $4.08, the average of 12 analysts in the survey.
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