PHILADELPHIA - Rohm and Haas Co. said it will incur a fourth-quarter pretax charge of approximately $18 million for cash severance and employee-separation benefits affecting an estimated 200 employment positions that will be eliminated as part of an ongoing restructuring program. The company said the restructuring initiatives would involve administrative operations as well as the Coatings, Adhesives and Sealants, and Electronic Materials businesses. The restructuring moves "will be substantially completed by September 2005" and are expected to result in annual pretax cost savings of approximately $27 million.

Separately, Rohm and Haas said its board of directors authorized the repurchase of up to $1 billion of the company's common stock through 2008, with the timing of the purchases depending on market conditions and other priorities for cash. Chairman and CEO Raj L. Gupta said the action "is consistent with our overall strategy to use the healthy cash generated by our portfolio to increase shareholder value through higher dividends, debt retirement, strategic investments in our core technologies and stock repurchase as appropriate." In comments on its outlook for 2004 results, the company is forecasting a 12-13% increase in sales, to approximately $7.2 billion, with earnings projected to be in the range of $2.10 to $2.20 per share.