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Shares of Westlake Chemical (WLK) have been strong performers lately, with the stock up 8.5% over the past month. The stock hit a new 52-week high of $95.36 in the previous session. Westlake Chemical has gained 14.1% since the start of the year compared to the 8.1% move for the Zacks Basic Materials sector and the 17.1% return for the Zacks Chemical - Plastic industry.
What's Driving the Outperformance?
The stock has an impressive record of positive earnings surprises, as it hasn't missed our earnings consensus estimate in any of the last four quarters. In its last earnings report on February 23, 2021, Westlake reported EPS of $0.87 versus consensus estimate of $0.68.
For the current fiscal year, Westlake is expected to post earnings of $5.45 per share on $8.28 billion in revenues. This represents a 137.99% change in EPS on a 10.29% change in revenues. For the next fiscal year, the company is expected to earn $5.38 per share on $8.36 billion in revenues. This represents a year-over-year change of -1.22% and 1.03%, respectively.
Westlake may be at a 52-week high right now, but what might the future hold for the stock? A key aspect of this question is taking a look at valuation metrics in order to determine if the company has run ahead of itself.
On this front, we can look at the Zacks Style Scores, as these give investors a variety of ways to comb through stocks (beyond looking at the Zacks Rank of a security). These styles are represented by grades running from A to F in the categories of Value, Growth, and Momentum, while there is a combined VGM Score as well. The idea behind the style scores is to help investors pick the most appropriate Zacks Rank stocks based on their individual investment style.
Westlake has a Value Score of B. The stock's Growth and Momentum Scores are B and A, respectively, giving the company a VGM Score of B.
In terms of its value breakdown, the stock currently trades at 17.1X current fiscal year EPS estimates. On a trailing cash flow basis, the stock currently trades at 11.1X versus its peer group's average of 10.1X. Additionally, the stock has a PEG ratio of 0.53. This isn't enough to put the company in the top echelon of all stocks we cover from a value perspective.
We also need to look at the Zacks Rank for the stock, as this supersedes any trend on the style score front. Fortunately, Westlake currently has a Zacks Rank of #1 (Strong Buy) thanks to favorable earnings estimate revisions from covering analysts.
Since we recommend that investors select stocks carrying Zacks Rank of 1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) and Style Scores of A or B, it looks as if Westlake fits the bill. Thus, it seems as though Westlake shares could still be poised for more gains ahead.
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