April 24, 2008 / 2:48 AM / in 10 years

Methanex says first quarter earnings fall sharply

NEW YORK, April 23 (Reuters) - Methanex Corp. (MEOH.O) (MX.TO) on Wednesday said first quarter earnings per share fell by nearly half as sales dropped.

The methanol producer said profit fell to $65.5 million, or 67 cents a share, in the first quarter, from $144.7 million, or $1.37 cents a diluted share in the quarter a year ago. Sales fell to $1.49 billion in the quarter from $1.65 billion a year earlier.

Vancouver-based Methanex said the volume of its methanol production fell to 678,000 tonnes in the three months to March 31 from 1.14 million tonnes in the quarter a year ago.

The company said the period produced “another good quarter of earnings,” but blamed the “pricing environment” for the lowered earnings.

It also said China has become a net exporter of the chemical rather than a net importer, which it called “the most significant factor” in the market. (Reporting by Dane Hamilton; Editing by Michael Urquhart)

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