LyondellBasell Revenue Slumps
Dutch chemicals and polymer producer LyondellBasell (NYSE: LYB – $92.49) reported a worse-than-expected 31% slide in revenue, as pricing for its products remained under pressure. Excluding an inventory adjustment, earnings, however, easily topped Wall Street expectations. Lyondell, which also is a refiner of crude oil and producer of gasoline blending components, has benefited from lower natural gas prices that have led to lower key raw material costs, helping to offset diminished pricing power that has resulted from cheaper oil. For the third period, revenue fell to $8.33 billion from $12.07 billion in the prior-year period and adjusted profit equal to $2.80 a share was higher than last year’s $2.52/share. Including the inventory adjustment, however, per share net would have been $2.54. Analysts expected earnings of $2.55 a share and revenue of $9.05 billion. Olefins and polyolefins in the Americas, the segment that produces products such as ethylene and represents the bulk of the company’s bottom line, reported operating income of $740 million, down from $1.07 billion a year earlier. The price of ethylene fell by 26 cents per pound compared with the prior year, but the company believes the ethylene industry has become more balanced in the current quarter. Following a strong first half of 2015, full year earnings can possibly approach $10.27 per share, affording the company a PE ratio of 9.1, at current levels. Looking ahead to 2016, LYB continues to forecast stable industry demand and operating rates and believe that the markets for its products will tighten as it moves into the spring. Currently, analysts are looking for LyondellBasell to earn $10.37 next year, assuming there are no major global economic growth negatives. The company produces strong cash flow and the well-covered annual dividend of $3.12 provides investors with a yield of 3.3%. Long-term capital gains potential has become more attractive as the shares have dropped in price since late last year and I believe demand for its products will improve.