PITTSBURGH - PPG Industries reported fourth quarter 2014 net sales from continuing operations of $3.71 billion, up $207 million, or 6%, versus the prior-year figure of $3.5 billion. Net sales in local currencies grew 10% year-over-year, with acquisition-related sales contributing about 6% and volume growth adding 4%. Unfavorable currency translation impacted net sales by 4%, or about $130 million.

Fourth quarter 2014 reported net income from continuing operations was $86 million, or 62 cents per diluted share. Fourth quarter 2014 adjusted net income from continuing operations was $293 million, or $2.11 per diluted share.

Fourth quarter 2013 reported net income and earnings per diluted share were $237 million and $1.66, respectively. Adjusted fourth quarter 2013 net income from continuing operations was $240 million with earnings from continuing operations of $1.68 per diluted share, excluding transaction-related costs of $3 million, or 2 cents per diluted share.

“We established new fourth quarter and full-year milestones in sales and adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations,” said Charles E. Bunch, PPG Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Our strong financial performance, including several consecutive years of at least 20% adjusted earnings growth, clearly illustrates the benefits of our active portfolio management, earnings-accretive cash deployment and persistent operational focus.

“For the fourth quarter, our adjusted earnings per share increased by 26% supported by growth of at least 10% from each reporting segment,” Bunch said. “While overall global economic activity remained modest, our sales volumes improved about 4%, with each major region delivering volume growth at or above our third quarter results. This was aided by solid growth in each business in our Industrial Coatings segment, along with continuing sales improvement in aerospace and automotive refinish.

“Strategically, 2014 was another successful and eventful year as we continued to enhance our business portfolio, including completion of the Comex acquisition in the fourth quarter. We are very pleased to now have this high-quality business as part of PPG,” Bunch said. “We also continued our heritage of returning cash to shareholders, with more than $1.1 billion returned for the year through dividends and share repurchases.”

“As evidenced by our results, we remain poised to benefit from continuing global growth due to our broad geographic reach and excellent product portfolio, coupled with our previously completed restructuring actions and ongoing cost discipline,” Bunch said. “As we enter 2015, we anticipate growth rates will remain mixed by region, with North American and Asian economies continuing to grow at rates generally consistent with 2014. Our base case assumption is that European growth will remain mixed by country but subdued overall. However, we believe that European economies stand to benefit considerably if oil prices remain at current levels, which may stimulate higher growth in that region.

“From a PPG perspective, we remain focused on new product development, operational excellence and continued opportunities to deploy cash for earnings accretion. Our acquisition pipeline remains active, and share repurchases remain an integral element of our capital allocation strategies. We anticipate deploying $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion of cash in years 2015 and 2016 combined, on acquisitions and share repurchases, with a focus on creating additional shareholder value,” Bunch concluded.

Performance Coatings segment net sales for the quarter were $2.1 billion, up $184 million, or 10%, over the prior-year period. The sales growth was primarily due to acquisition-related gains, including about $175 million of sales from the Comex acquisition that closed in early November. Segment sales volumes improved 2% and pricing added 1% year-over-year, offset by unfavorable currency translation of 4%. Sales growth rates in local currencies improved in all regions, with the rate of growth consistent with or above the third quarter rate. Growth continued in aerospace and automotive refinish, reflecting increased end-use market demand. North American architectural coatings sales grew by low- to mid-single-digit percentages, with results consistent across national accounts and company-owned stores. Architectural coatings – EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) sales volumes were down 2% versus an improving sales trend in the prior-year period. Demand in the region remained mixed by country, with certain countries improving while others lagged. Aggregate protective and marine coatings sales also improved, aided by growth in Asia. Segment earnings of $239 million were up $37 million, or 18%, as a result of the increase in sales volumes and acquisition-related earnings, including a mid-teens percentage return on sales for the Comex acquisition.

Industrial Coatings segment net sales for the quarter were $1.34 billion, increasing $15 million, or 1%, year-over-year. Sales volume growth of 5% was partly offset by unfavorable currency translation of 4%. Automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) coatings delivered higher sales volumes in all regions, growing in aggregate by mid- to high-single-digit percentages, which exceeded the global industry growth rate of about 2%. The industrial coatings and specialty coatings and materials businesses also delivered higher sales volumes across all major regions, led by volume growth in the United States and Canada. Packaging coatings sales volumes grew, including higher European results. Total segment earnings for the quarter were $223 million, up $21 million, or 10%, year-over-year as a result of the higher sales and manufacturing cost improvements.

Glass segment net sales were $272 million for the quarter, up $8 million, or 3%, year-over-year on higher sales volumes and selling prices, partly offset by negative currency translation. Solid flat glass sales volume growth continued, aided by higher demand for value-added products serving residential and non-residential end-use markets. These gains were offset by lower fiber glass volumes, as higher European volumes were offset by weaker volumes in the United States due to customer inventory management. Segment earnings were $33 million, up $11 million versus the prior year, due to the higher sales and improved manufacturing utilization and costs.

PPG’s 2014 full-year net sales from continuing operations were $15.4 billion, an increase of 8% versus $14.3 billion the prior year. Acquisition-related sales contributed 4% year-over-year, supplemented by sales volumes and pricing, which added 4% and 1%, respectively, and partly offset by unfavorable currency translation of 1%. The company’s 2014 full-year reported net income from continuing operations was $1.13 billion, or $8.10 per diluted share, versus $950 million, or $6.55 per diluted share, in 2013. Full-year 2014 adjusted net income from continuing operations was $1.36 billion, or $9.75 per diluted share, versus $1.11 billion, or $7.67 per diluted share, in 2013.