KINGSPORT — Eastman Chemical announced higher revenues and earnings in its first quarter report on Thursday.

“We delivered outstanding first quarter results, with adjusted EPS (earnings per share) up 20% compared with first quarter 2019 and up 5% compared with strong first-quarter 2020 results,” said Mark Costa, Eastman board chair and CEO. “First-quarter results included approximately $30 million of costs from the impact of Winter Storm Uri. The combination of continued disciplined operational execution, the diversity of our end markets, and the benefit of our innovation-driven growth model positioned Eastman well for the return of economic growth. In addition, our focus on cash generation resulted in record first-quarter free cash flow that was well above last year. While economic growth has returned, the threat from COVID-19 per- sists, and we remain diligent in our efforts to keep our employees safe and maintain the operational integrity of our facilities.”

Sales revenue was $2.4 billion compared to $2.2 billion in last year’s first quarter. Earnings before interest and taxes was 389 compared to 368 in the first quarter of 2020. Sales revenue for the Kingsport-based global specialty materials company was up in all four operating segments, including a whopping 16% in Advanced Materials.

In first quarter 2021, cash from operating activities was $216 million.

Free cash flow (cash from operating activities less net capital expenditures) was $125 million, up approximately 75% from first quarter 2020. In first quarter 2021, the company returned $134 million to stockholders through dividends and share repurchases. Priorities for uses of available cash for 2021 include payment of the quarterly dividend, reduction of net debt, bolt-on acquisitions, and share repurchases.

2021 Outlook

Commenting on the outlook for full-year 2021, Costa said: “Our team did an outstanding job mitigating the impact of Winter Storm Uri, enabling us to continue to serve our customers and significantly contributing to our strong first-quarter results. The momentum from the first quarter continues in the second quarter as we benefit from our innovation-driven growth model, strong market recovery, and lower operating costs from our operations transformation program. With our strong first-quarter results, we now expect 2021 adjusted EPS (earnings per share) to be between $8.25 and $8.75. We also expect free cash flow to approach $1.1 billion, which would be the fifth consecutive year of free cash flow above $1 billion.”

Eastman’s stock closed at $116.6 per share, up $1.24, on Thursday.

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