updated 4/27/2006 7:44:55 AM ET 2006-04-27T11:44:55

Chemicals maker Dow Chemical Co. on Thursday posted a 10 percent decline in first-quarter earnings as the rising cost of raw materials offset a modest gain in sales.

Net income fell to $1.21 billion, or $1.24 per share, from $1.35 billion, or $1.39 per share, in the prior-year period.

Sales increased 3 percent to $12.02 billion from $11.68 billion a year ago on slightly higher prices.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial forecast a profit of $1.17 per share on sales of $12.26 billion.

Dow said its results were hurt by an $800 million increase in feedstock and energy costs. Feedstock refers to the ingredients used to make its chemicals.

U.S. sales slowed at the quarter’s start, but demand picked up again in march, said Chief Financial Officer Geoffery E. Merszei.

“That demand has continued into the second quarter,” he said.

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