The company also reported that it reduced total indebtedness by more than $11 million in the quarter for a total reduction of approximately $377 million for full year 2002. The debt reduction was due largely to $132 million of proceeds from the divestiture in the third quarter of its powder coatings business.
Fourth quarter sales from the coatings segment from continuing operations were $240.3 million, compared with fourth quarter 2001 sales of $229.8 million. Segment income increased to $23.3 million from $16.2 million in the year ago quarter. Increased sales reflected favorable foreign currency exchange and higher volumes within the color and glass performance materials business, which benefited from increased automotive build rates and higher demand for container glass material, particularly in North America, according to the company. Overall, demand slowed significantly late in the quarter as customers extended holiday shutdowns and depleted inventory levels. Global demand for electronics was relatively flat. Asia Pacific sales continued to grow at double-digit rates but market conditions in Europe remained very soft, according to Ferro. Earnings increased significantly due mainly to the higher volumes and an improved cost structure resulting from the dmc2 integration process.
Coatings segment sales from continuing operations were $986.6 million in 2002, compared with $714.2 million in 2001. The segment income increased significantly to $95.9 million compared to $62.3 million in 2001. Segment revenue and income were impacted by the dmc2 integration process.
In the performance chemicals segment, fourth quarter sales from continuing operations were $125.9 million, compared with $120.3 million in the fourth quarter last year. Segment income decreased to $2.5 million from $7.2 million a year ago. Performance chemicals segment sales for 2002 were $541.9 million in 2002, compared with $532.3 million the prior year. Operating income for the segment was $34.6 million, compared with $36.5 million in 2001. Sales growth reflects improved market conditions for the automotive, building and renovation, appliance and consumer packaging markets in the U.S. This was partially offset, however, by the sluggish market conditions that persisted throughout the year in Europe, according to the company.