Dow Chemical's Profit Jumps Five-Fold

Dow Chemical which is merging with DuPont, reported a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit as the company gained from its focus on consumer markets.

Demand in Dow's packaging, consumer care, electronics and automotive businesses has been robust due to improving economic growth worldwide.

Dow has been concentrating on its high-margin businesses while shedding its less-lucrative commodity businesses, including parts of its century-old chlorine business.

Net income available to the company's shareholders rose to $888 million, or 72 cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 31 from $169 million, or 15 cents per share, a year earlier.

The year-earlier included a $778 million charge related to the settlement of a 2005 lawsuit that accused Dow and other companies of conspiring to fix prices of urethane chemicals in the preceding six years.

Excluding a $386 million arbitration-related charge in the latest quarter, operating profit was $1.04 per share, topping the analysts' average estimate of 99 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net sales rose 23.6 percent to $13.23 billion, slightly beating analysts' estimate of $13.21 billion.

(Reporting by Swetha Gopinath and Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)