INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Dow AgroSciences LLC reported record sales of $2.1 billion in the first quarter, an increase of 1 percent over last year’s first period.

The subsidiary of Midland, Mich.-based Dow Chemical Co. also reported record earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, of $529 million, up 9 percent from a year ago. Dow Agro said higher sales and lower expenses boosted profit.

Sales of crop-protection products grew 4 percent overall in the quarter, mainly due to gains in foreign markets. Sales of new crop-protection products rose 28 percent. Sales of seeds and seed traits fell 7 percent in the quarter, partly due to the late planting season in the United States.

Meanwhile, Dow Chemical, the largest U.S. chemical maker, posted first-quarter earnings that exceeded analyst estimates as plastics margins widened on higher prices and coatings volumes improved.

Profit rose to $964 million, or 79 cents a share, from $550 million, or 46 cents, a year earlier. That topped the 71-cent average of 17 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales climbed to $14.5 billion, from $14.4 billion a year ago, missing the $14.7 billion average of 13 estimates.

CEO Andrew Liveris earlier this year expanded plans to divest underperforming units amid calls from hedge fund Third Point LLC to split off its commodity-chemical operations.
Profit from plastics, Dow’s largest business, climbed 5 percent as price increases for polyethylene stayed ahead of rising costs for resin ingredients such as propane and ethane. Earnings from coatings were up 20 percent.

Dow shares rose more than 2 percent Wednesday morning, to $49.97 each.