BOSTON (Jan. 27)—Cabot Corp. reported lower earnings in the firm's first quarter ended Dec. 31 as margins on carbon black declined in the wake of rising feedstock costs and a lag in pricing adjustments in certain sectors. Net earnings fell 15 percent to $33 million as sales dropped 8.2 percent to $408 million. The operating profit for the carbon black business fell $6 million from the same quarter last year but was $5 million higher than the fourth quarter, Cabot said. Carbon black volumes increased 7 percent vs. the first three months of fiscal 2002. Cabot expects better results in its second quarter because of price increases in the non-contracted carbon black business, according to Kennett F. Burnes, Cabot chairman and CEO.