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Zacks Industry Outlook Highlights: Eastman Chemical, Celanese, PPG Industries and Methanex

Zacks Equity Research

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – December 21, 2012 – Today, Zacks Equity Research discusses the U.S. Chemicals, including Eastman Chemical Company (EMN), Celanese Corp. (CE), PPG Industries Inc. (PPG) and Methanex Corp. (MEOH).


A synopsis of today’s Industry Outlook is presented below. The full article can be read at  

Link: http://www.zacks.com/commentary/25066/chemical-industry-stock-outlook-dec-2012

According to the ACC, emerging market growth and abundant shale gas should help drive U.S. chemical exports. A string of factors are driving growth in the export markets including favorable energy costs stemming from the abundance of shale gas and strong demand from the emerging markets. Affordable natural gas and ethane (derived from shale gas) offer U.S. producers a compelling cost advantage over their global counterparts who use a more expensive, oil-based feedstock.

Further, cost-cutting measures implemented by chemical companies including plant closures and headcount reduction, should yield industry-wide margin improvements. Cash flows derived through these actions can be used for growth.

Mergers and acquisitions offer chemical companies another means to shore up growth in this difficult scenario. These companies remain focused on exploring growth opportunities in the fast-growing emerging markets, particularly in the lucrative regions of Asia-Pacific and Latin America such as China and Brazil.

We feel that chemical companies with strong earnings quality, healthy growth trajectory and liquidity profiles are better placed in the current rickety market environment considering their ability to leverage strong balance sheet and cash flows in maximizing shareholder value in form of dividends and share repurchases or use them for value acquisitions.

We have a bullish view on Eastman Chemical Company (EMN), which is delivering forecast-topping earnings and is well placed to benefit from its Solutia acquisition. The company’s diversified chemical portfolio and integrated and diverse downstream businesses represents the pillars of strength. It also benefits from business restructuring, cost-cutting measures and increased capacity additions.

We are also optimistic about Celanese Corp. (CE) despite the challenges it faces in Europe. We like the company’s initiatives to improve margins and profits by running its plants better and controlling expenses. The company’s strong presence in emerging markets, especially in China, will enable it to deliver incremental earnings in 2012. We are also upbeat about the prospect of its TCX ethanol process technology.

In specialty chemical space, PPG Industries Inc. (PPG) represents an attractive play. The company witnessed strong growth in its North American automotive OEM coatings business in the September quarter, enabling it to deliver better-than-expected earnings. It has a diversified base of products and markets, and looks to grow its businesses strategically along with controlling costs.

We also hold a favorable view on specialty chemical company Methanex Corp. (MEOH). The company has taken up a number of steps, including production ramp ups in New Zealand and the Medicine Hat unit, to boost capacity. We are upbeat about its Louisiana project, which is expected to create significant value for its shareholders and meaningfully contribute in cash generation.

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