Bloomberg News

Georgia Gulf Says Fire Probe to Take Several Weeks

November 21, 2007

Georgia Gulf Corp., the largest North American producer of vinyl construction products, said an investigation into the cause of a fire at a plant in Lake Charles, Louisiana, will take several weeks.

The plant makes vinyl chloride monomer, an ingredient in polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, which is used in pipe and window frames. Georgia Gulf has enough of the material to supply customers until the plant is repaired next year, the Atlanta- based company said today in a statement.

``We have the VCM we need to handle demand in this slower seasonal period,'' Chairman Ed Schmitt said in the statement. ``We expect the Lake Charles plant to be fully operational in advance of the seasonal increase in demand next year.''

The worst U.S. housing recession in 16 years has reduced demand for construction materials. Lowe's Co., the second-largest home-improvement retailer, cut its profit forecast this week. Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., New Jersey's largest homebuilder, said Nov. 6 that sales ``seriously deteriorated'' as stricter lending standards made it tougher to get mortgages.

Georgia Gulf (GGC:US) fell 21 cents, or 3 percent, to $6.76 at 4:02 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock has dropped 65 percent this year, the worst performance on the 12- member S&P SmallCap Chemicals Industry Index.

Mark Badger, a spokesman for the company, didn't immediately return calls to his office seeking comment.

The Lake Charles factory can produce about 900 million pounds of vinyl chloride a year, or 30 percent of the company's capacity.

To contact the reporters on this story: Stewart Bailey in New York at sbailey7@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kevin Orland at korland@bloomberg.net.


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