Earnings reports from major coatings manufacturers for the first part of the year show the effects of a slowing economy, continued increases in raw-material and energy costs, and the impact of cold weather. The Sherwin-Williams Co., PPG Industries Inc., DuPont Co., Ferro Corp., and Rohm and Haas Co. reported lower first-quarter earnings, and RPM Inc. reported a loss of $7 million for its third quarter ended Feb. 28. The Valspar Corp. said net income declined 25% for its second quarter ended April 27.

In announcing that first-quarter net income declined 9.8% to $36.9 million and sales fell 5.2% to $1.16 billion from the same period of 2000, Sherwin-Williams Chairman and CEO Christopher M. Connor said the company was disappointed by profit and sales declines in the company’s Consumer Segment, which markets products through home centers and other retailers. Sherwin-Williams’ huge Paint Stores Segment, however, managed a 7.8% increase in operating profit despite a slight decline in net sales.

PPG said first-quarter earnings declined 59.7%, to $56 million, due to rising energy and raw-material costs, as sales declined 2.5%, to $2.099 billion, from the year-earlier period. The company said it is cutting nearly 1,500 jobs, or 4% of its worldwide work force, and is taking an after-tax charge of $71 million as a result of the job cuts and the closing of three small facilities. About 80% of the planned work-force reduction involves coatings operations, the company said.

PPG Chairman and CEO Raymond W. LeBoeuf said that following a series of 23 acquisitions over the past four years — mostly in the coatings segment — the company’s focus is “inward,” directed at integration of the acquisitions. He said it will require “several years to get our acquisitions where we want them to be.”

DuPont Co. Inc. reported first-quarter net income of $495 million, a 38.4% decline from the first quarter of 2000, while sales declined 9.2%, to $6.9 billion. Operating income for the company’s Performance Coatings & Polymers segment was $132 million, down 26% from the first quarter of 2000. Sales for the segment declined 12%, to $1.458 billion, due to reduced auto production and lower automotive-refinish sales in the United States and the weakness of the euro.

Valspar Chairman and CEO Richard M. Rompala said the company’s industrial-coatings sales were particularly hard-hit by the slowdown in the U.S. economy, while architectural and packaging-coatings sales remained “healthy.” Rompala said the company is accelerating the pace of moves related to the integration of the recently acquired Lilly Industries Inc.

Valspar reported net income of $19.036 million for its second quarter ended April 27, a 25% decline from a year earlier. Sales for the quarter rose 30.8%, to $513.74 million. For the company’s first half ended April 27, net income was $23.49 million, a decrease of 36.2% from the previous year. Sales for the six-month period rose 18.7%, to $850.72 million.

Rohm and Haas Co. said it would lay off more than 1,200 of its 18,000 employees worldwide and consolidate some manufacturing operations as part of a reorganization designed to cut costs. The company said its Specialty Polymers, Plastics Additives and Automotive Coatings operations were significantly affected by slowing of the U.S. construction and automotive markets.

Rohm and Haas said first-quarter net profit declined more than 50%, to $64 million, while sales fell 4%, to $1.69 billion. Net earnings for the company’s Performance Polymers Segment, which includes coatings operations, declined 64.8%, to $32 million, from the previous year. Sales for the segment dropped 10%, to $794 million.

Ferro Corp. reported first-quarter net income of $14.0 million, a 24% decline from the same period of 2000, and said coatings-sales declines resulted from the economy’s impact on the automotive, appliance and electronics markets. Sales for the quarter, however, rose 5%, to a record $370.7 million, from the year before. Coatings-segment profits were $21.9 million, a decline of 14.8% from the fourth quarter of 2000, while the segment’s sales were down 1.4%, to $216.191 million.

RPM Inc. said its results were adversely affected by cold weather, a generally soft retail environment and costs related to the restructuring of the company’s Wood Finishes Group. The company reported a net loss of $7.0 million for its third quarter ended Feb. 28, compared to net income of $3.7 million a year earlier. Sales for the quarter fell 1.7%, to $404 million, from the previous year. For the nine-month period ended Feb. 28, net income was $38.7 million, an increase of 18.9% from the year-earlier period. Sales for the nine-month period rose 3%, to $1.455 billion.

Companies based in Europe appeared to fare better in the first quarter than their U.S. counterparts. Akzo Nobel said its first-quarter net income declined only 1% while sales rose 4%, and BASF AG reported a 4% gain in net income and a 9.7% increase in sales. ICI plc reported a decline of 6.4% in net profit before exceptional items, but said sales rose 7.1%.