It was a somewhat unusual quarter for Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW). Without exception, its geographic markets all recorded sales increases, and its operating units all increased their sales numbers, yet that all-important bottom line was down from a year ago.

For the quarter, the Michigan-based company earned $941 million, or $0.99 a share, a dip from last year's comparable $973 million, or $1 a share. The analysts who follow the company had apparently been looking for a per-share number of about $0.94. Net revenue for the period was up 19% to $14.8 billion, vs. the $12.4 billion for the first quarter of 2007.

The earnings shortfall resulted largely from higher prices for oil and natural gas, the raw materials for a host of the chemicals products manufactured by the company. At the same time, Dow was affected somewhat by a slide in the demand for polypropylene, as consumers pulled in their horns on durables and housewares.

Looking at Dow's six primary operating segments, all achieved double-digit increases in sales, with hydrocarbons and energy leading the way at 34.3%. Not far behind were basic chemicals, basic plastics, and agricultural sciences, all of which topped 20% sales growth.

Geographically, it was more of the same, with all regions checking in with double-digit numbers. However, North America suffered a 2% volume slide.

According to CEO Andrew Liveris, the company's outlook continues to reflect "a strong international economy and a robust agricultural sector." Indeed more than two-thirds of Dow's revenue comes from outside the U.S.

Dow thus follows DuPont (NYSE: DD) among the big chemical producers to report its earnings for the March-ended quarter. It also lines up with the diverse likes of 3M (NYSE: MMM), Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT), Honeywell (NYSE: HON), and UPS (NYSE: UPS) in looking overseas for sales strength in the face of pervasive U.S. economic softness.

For my money, Dow merits ongoing attention from Foolish investors. When its 11.6 times 2008 forward P/E is juxtaposed with its international spread and its 4.3% dividend yield, it appears to be a company deserving of a spot on all our watch lists.

Related Foolishness:

Dow Chemical and UPS are Income Investor recommendations, while 3M is an Inside Value recommendation. Try any of the Fool's investing newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor David Lee Smith admits to not having blown the lights out in high school chemistry -- or actually he did once. In any event, he doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned, but he does welcome your comments. The Fool has a disclosure policy.