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Air Products to Launch Freshline Freezer at Seafood Expo

Zacks Equity Research

Air Products APD said that it will launch its new Freshline IQ cryogenic tunnel freezer at Seafood Expo North America in Boston. The new freezer provides food processors with continuous high throughput for a wide range of products along with easy clean-up and minimal up-front capital investment.

The freezer's heat transfer ability enables optimum dispersion of vaporized liquid nitrogen  through the tunnel, which is the shortest freezer required to cool or freeze the product and lower maintenance costs. The Freshline IQ freezer is fast and easy to integrate in customers’ existing production line and can be expanded on-site to cater to the increasing demand.

The company provides Freshline solutions for large manufacturers with multiple product lines to small food processors.  Additionally, Air Products also offers a broad range of solutions to meet a seafood processor's water treatment needs.

Air Products has underperformed the Zacks categorized Chemicals-Diversified industry over the past three months. The company’s shares have declined around 6.7% over this period, compared to roughly 4.3% gain recorded by the industry.

Air Products is well positioned to capitalize on the cyclical recovery in core industrial end-markets. The company has built a strong project backlog. These projects are expected to be accretive to earnings and cash flow over the next few years. Acquisitions and new business wins are expected to continue to drive results in the near term. The company is also progressing well with its $600 million cost-cutting program.

However, Air Product’s industrial gases business in the EMEA region is seeing pressure from a weak operating environment. The company is also seeing lower volumes in Latin America due to weak demand. Moreover, volumes in packaged gases continue to be weak while LNG sales remain under pressure due to low project activity. The company is also exposed to currency headwinds and has a debt-laden balance sheet.

Air Products missed earnings expectations in first-quarter fiscal 2017 (ended Dec 31, 2016). The company logged first-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.47 per share, up 9% from the year-ago quarter. However, earnings missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.48. Revenues inched up 1% year over year to $1.88 billion in the reported quarter but missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.96 billion.

For second-quarter fiscal 2017, Air Products expects adjusted earnings from continuing operations of $1.30 to $1.40 per share. Air Products also expects adjusted earnings for fiscal 2017 in the range of $6.00 to $6.25 per share, up 9% year over year at the midpoint. The company expects capital expenditures of roughly $1 billion in fiscal 2017.

Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. Price and Consensus

Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. Price and Consensus | Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. Quote

Air Products currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

Key Picks

Better-ranked companies in the chemical space include Univar Inc. UNVR, Arkema SA ARKAY and Albermale Corp. ALB.

Univar has an expected long-term growth of 9.4% and sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Arkema has an expected long-term growth of 12.4% and flaunts a Zacks Rank #1.

Albemarle has an expected long-term growth of 10.3% and carries a Zacks Rank #2.

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