Low natural gas prices help Georgia Gulf results

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ATLANTA (Feb. 17, 10:15 a.m. ET) — In the midst of a takeover battle, Georgia Gulf Corp. has released positive financial results for full-year 2011.

Atlanta-based Georgia Gulf – which has rejected two takeover offers from competitor Westlake Chemical Corp. since Jan. 17 – saw its sales grow 14 percent to more than $3.2 billion during 2011. The firm’s profit also jumped almost 36 percent to almost $58 million during the year, officials said in a Feb. 15 news release.

“Our financial performance in 2011 exceeded our 2010 results, as industry conditions continue to improve, driven by North America’s advantaged natural gas position,” President and CEO Paul Carrico said in the release.

Georgia Gulf’s chlorovinyls unit – including PVC resin and compounds – showed sales growth of almost 8 percent and operating income growth of 25 percent for the year. That unit was the largest of the firm’s three operating units in 2011, accounting for almost 41 percent of total sales.

The Building Products unit – including PVC siding and related products – enjoyed sales growth of more than 11 percent in 2011, but operating income tumbled 48 percent. Building Products was the smallest of the firm’s three units with about 28 percent of sales. The remainder of Georgia Gulf’s sales comes from its aromatic chemicals unit.

Houston-based Westlake most recently offered $35 per share to acquire Georgia Gulf, valuing the firm at about $1.2 billion. Georgia Gulf officials emphatically rejected that offer, just as they had a $30 per-share offer made in January. Westlake already owns about five percent of Georgia Gulf stock, but Georgia Gulf has adopted a “poison pill” plan to discourage Westlake from growing its stake.

Westlake’s interest in Georgia Gulf has sent Georgia Gulf’s stock price soaring more than 75 percent so far in 2012. The stock was at $34.40 per share in early trading Feb. 17.