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Shares in paint maker AkzoNobel slipped 3 per cent on Wednesday after the chemicals group reported fourth-quarter core profits that fell below market expectations.

The Netherlands-based company, whose products range from protective coatings for iPhones to table salt, posted underlying earnings of €235m before interest and tax in the last three months of 2016 – some 4.2 per cent lower than analysts had forecast – on revenue of €3.46bn.

AkzoNobel’s preferred measure of profit was dragged down during the period by poor performance at its performance coatings division, which the company said was hit by “adverse conditions” in the marine and oil and gas industries. Analysts at Barclays described the quarterly results as “disappointing”.

However, AkzoNobel’s full-year adjusted ebit increased 2.7 per cent in 2016 to €1.5bn, which it attributed to increased production volumes and lower costs.

Since taking over in 2012, chief executive Ton Büchner has concentrated on making the sprawling chemicals empire leaner and more profitable. That has involved major restructuring, job cuts and closure of facilities.

Even so, group revenue fell 4.5 per cent to €14.2bn, which management blamed on unfavourable currency movements and “price/mix effects” – implying lower-priced products took up a greater proportion of total sales.

The owner of the Dulux brand reiterated its financial guidance for the 2016-18 period, which comprises a return on sales between 9 and 11 percent; and a return on investment between 13 and 16.5 percent. It comfortably achieved both targets last year.

It added: “We anticipate positive developments for EMEA, North America and Asia, improving during the year, while Latin America is expected to stabilize.”

On Wednesday late-morning the stock had dropped 3 per cent to €62.50 on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange, valuing the company at €15.8bn.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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