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Albemarle Hikes ETHANOX 4716 Price

Zacks Equity Research

Albemarle Corporation (ALB) declared that it will raise the price of ETHANOX 4716 antioxidant on all shipments worldwide by 25 cents per kilogram. The price hike is effective immediately or as per the contracts.

Albemarle’s Polymer Solutions business segment develops and produces antioxidants for lubricants, petroleum and biodiesel fuels. ETHANOX antioxidants increase the stability, improve the performance and expand the storage life of lubricants and fuels used globally.

In the recent past, Fine Chemistry Services (FCS), another segment of Albemarle, commenced the expansion of its custom manufacturing facility in Tyrone, PA. This is the second expansion at this site following the previous expansion, which came on stream in Nov 2012. The costs of the current Tyrone expansion have been estimated at $30 million.

The expansion is set to improve the infrastructural base at the site and will enable incremental and low-cost expansions in the future. It will also fuel further growth at FCS’s custom manufacturing business. The incremental capacity is expected to be operational in first-quarter 2014. Eventually, the company will benefit from the estimated 40% increase in reactor capacity.

Albemarle’s fourth-quarter 2012 results, released on Jan 22, were impressive as both adjusted earnings and revenues exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimates. The company’s adjusted earnings (excluding special items) stood at $1.17 a share in the quarter compared with $1.13 a share earned in the year-ago quarter. The results surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 99 cents, reflecting a positive surprise of around 18%.

Revenues were $687.6 million in the quarter, down 4% from $707.4 million in the year-ago quarter, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $646 million. Sales were impacted by lower metal surcharges in the Catalysts segment, more than offsetting volume growth.

Exit from the phosphorus business, lack of pension obligations, strong balance sheet and investments for future growth are expected to benefit the company going forward. However, lower demand for the products coupled with unfavorable raw material pricing impact resulted in lower operating rates at the production units in 2012.

Albemarle retains a short-term (1 to 3 months) Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Other companies in the diversified chemical industry worth considering are Akzo Nobel NV (AKZOY), Arkema S.A. (ARKAY) and BASF SE (BASFY). All of these hold a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Read the Full Research Report on ALB

Read the Full Research Report on BASFY

Read the Full Research Report on ARKAY

Read the Full Research Report on AKZOY

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