Westlake Hikes Dividend by 150%


Specialty chemicals company Westlake Chemical Corporation (WLK) raised its dividend by more than 150% to $18.75 from 7.375 cents per share paid in the same period last year. The increased dividend will be paid on September 12, 2012, to stockholders of record as of August 30, 2012.

Earlier this month, Westlake Chemical released its second quarter results for 2012. The company’s adjusted earnings (excluding pre-tax gains) of $1.59 per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.41 during the quarter. Reported profit was a record $115.5 million or $1.72 per share versus $81 million or $1.21 per share in the year-ago period.

Revenues dipped 1.2% year over year to $914 million, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $933 million. The decline was due to a drop in selling prices for a number of Westlake’s key products along with lower sales volume for PVC resin and building products. However, higher olefins and feedstock sales volumes prevented revenues from sliding further.

Westlake’s Olefins and Vinyls segments saw higher profits during the quarter, aided by lower cost feedstock on the back of favorable ethane and propane prices, arising from the strong North American shale gas production. The company’s Olefins business registered a sterling performance, posting record quarterly income from operations.

Westlake Chemical Corporation is an international manufacturer and supplier of petrochemicals, polymers and building products. The company competes with The Dow Chemical Company (DOW), and currently holds a Zacks #2 Rank, reflecting a short-term (1 to 3 months) Buy rating. However, we have recommended the company’s shares as Neutral for the long term (more than 6 months).

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