Top Chemical Stocks For 2015

With shares of Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) trading around $97, is XOM an OUTPERFORM, WAIT AND SEE, or STAY AWAY? Let’s analyze the stock with the relevant sections of our CHEAT SHEET investing framework:

T = Trends for a Stock’s Movement

Exxon Mobil is a manufacturer and marketer of commodity petrochemicals like olefins, aromatics, polyethylene, and polypropylene plastics, as well as a range of specialty products. The company has a number of divisions and affiliates with names that include ExxonMobil, Exxon, Esso, and Mobil, which operate or market products in the United States and other countries. Exxon Mobil’s principal business is energy, involving the exploration for and production of crude oil and natural gas; manufacture of petroleum products; and transportation and sale of crude oil, natural gas, and petroleum products.

Exxon Mobil is leading the way in calling for the United States to end restrictions on the exporting of oil, the Wall Street Journal reports. The ban on the exportation of oil from the United States dates back to the 1970s, when fears over the looming energy crisis caused the government to institute the measure. With gasoline prices going through the roof, and shortages occurring at gas stations throughout the country, it seemed like a logical step to keep as many fossil fuels as possible within U.S. borders.

Top Chemical Stocks For 2015: Rentech Inc (RTK)

Rentech, Inc. (Rentech), incorporated in 1981, is a provider of clean energy solutions. The Company owns and operates a nitrogen fertilizer plant in East Dubuque, Illinois, that manufactures and sells natural gas-based nitrogen fertilizer products within the corn-belt region in the United States. It is developing energy projects to produce certified synthetic fuels and electric power from carbon-containing materials, such as biomass, waste and fossil resources. Its technologies can produce synthesis gas (syngas) from biomass and waste materials, and convert syngas from its own or other gasification technologies into complex hydrocarbons (the Rentech Process) that are then upgraded into fuels using refining technology that it licenses. In addition to developing projects using these technologies, it is pursuing the licensing of its technologies to developers of projects that are expected to produce fuels and/or power. In May 2011, it acquired majority interest in ClearFuels Technology Inc. In May 2013, Rentech Inc acquired the entire share capital of Fulghum Fibres Inc. In August 2013, Rentech Inc announced that a subsidiary of the Company closed the sale of approximately 450 acres in Natchez, Mississippi to Adams County, Mississippi.

The Rentech Process is a technology based on Fischer-Tropsch (FT) chemistry, which converts syngas that can be produced from a range of biomass, waste and fossil resources into hydrocarbons. These hydrocarbons can be processed and upgraded into synthetic fuels, such as military and commercial jet fuels and low sulfur diesel fuel, as well as waxes and chemicals. Unlike some other alternative transportation fuels, such as ethanol, fuels produced from the Rentech Process can be transported and used in existing infrastructure, including pipelines and engines without blending restrictions. Its technology portfolio also includes the Rentech-SilvaGas biomass gasification technology (the Rentech-SilvaGas Tech nology), which enables it to offer integrated technologies t! hat can convert biomass and wastes to syngas and into clean fuels and electric power.

The Rentech Process can produce synthetic diesel fuels (RenDiesel1 fuels), which are clean burning having lower emissions of regulated pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and particulate matter, than traditional petroleum-based diesel fuels. The Rentech Process also can produce synthetic jet fuel (RenJet fuel), which when blended with conventional jet fuel meet jet fuel specifications for military jet fuel and commercial Jet A and Jet A-1 fuels. It is developing a proposed project near Natchez, Mississippi (the Natchez Project) designed to produce approximately 30,000 barrels per day of synthetic fuels and chemicals and approximately 120 megawatts of power. It is evaluating alternative configurations for the Natchez site, which would initially be smaller in scale. The alternate configurations may use various feed-stocks alone or in various combinations, and incl ude proportions of waxes and chemicals as products.

The Company owns, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Rentech Energy Midwest Corporation (REMC), a nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing plant that uses natural gas as its feedstock to produce syngas and then nitrogen fertilizer products. The products, the Company can produce include renewable synthetic diesel and jet fuels, naphtha and power from biomass resources; synthetic diesel and jet fuels, naphtha and power from fossil or fossil and biomass resources, and paraffinic waxes, solvents and specialty chemicals.

The Company competes with ExxonMobil, the Royal Dutch/Shell group, Statoil, BP and Sasol.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Rich Duprey]

    Alternative energy specialist Rentech  (NASDAQ: RTK  )  will be buying back up to $25 million worth of company stock through the rest of the year, the board of directors announced Monday.

  • [By Travis Hoium]

    What: Shares of fertilizer and renewable energy company Rentech (NASDAQ: RTK  ) jumped 17% today after the company announced an acquisition.

Top Chemical Stocks For 2015: ICL Israel Chemicals Ltd (ICL)

ICL Israel Chemicals Ltd (ICL) is an Israel-based company, engaged in the fertilizer and specialty chemical sectors. The company operates in three segments: Fertilizers, Industrial Products, and Performance Products. The Fertilizers segment is engaged in the production of standard, granular, fine red and white potash from three sources, as well as in the production of phosphates, such as phosphate rock, phosphoric acid, fertilizers and animal feed addictives. The Industrial Products segment produces flame retardants, such as brominates and organ phosphorus; elemental bromine, and other chemicals. In addition the Performance Products segment produces specialty phosphates, such as technical, food grade and electronic grade phosphoric acid, phosphate salts, food additives and wildfire safety products, as well as alumina and other chemicals. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Gwen Ackerman]

    Israel Chemicals Ltd. (ICL), the fourth-largest potash producer in the world by sales, is weighing on the Tel Aviv benchmark stock index on concern the government will exact higher royalties amid a global oversupply.

  • [By Claudia Maedler]

    In Israel, the TA-25 Index (TA-25) gained 1.9 percent at the close in Tel Aviv as Israel Corp. jumped 9 percent, the most since July 2009, to 1,755 shekels. The shares soared along with those of its Israel Chemicals Ltd. (ICL) unit, which advanced 6.4 percent on speculation that a possible change in ownership of Russian potash producer OAO Uralkali could help stabilize prices of the crop nutrient.

Top Chemical Stocks For 2015: Gulf Resources Inc (GURE)

Gulf Resources, Inc. (Gulf Resources), incorporated on February 28, 1989, is engaged in manufacturing and trading of bromine and crude salt, and manufacturing and selling of chemical products used in oil and gas field exploration, oil and gas distribution, oil field drilling, wastewater processing, papermaking chemical agents and inorganic chemicals. As of December 31, 2011, its products have been sold only within the People’s Republic of China. The Company operates in three segments: bromine, crude salt and chemical products. It manufactures and trades bromine and crude salt through Shouguang City Haoyuan Chemical Company Limited (SCHC), and manufactures chemical products for use in the oil industry and paper manufacturing industry through Shouguang Yuxin Chemical Industry Co., Limited (SYCI). On December 22, 2011, the Company acquired substantially all of the assets owned by Liangcai Zhang in the Shouguang City Yangkou Township Area.

Bromine and Crude Salt

The Company manufactures and distributes bromine through its wholly owned subsidiary, SCHC. Bromine (Br2) is a halogen element and it is a red volatile liquid at standard room temperature, which has reactivity between chlorine and iodine. Elemental bromine is used to manufacture a variety of bromine compounds used in industry and agriculture. Bromine is also used to form intermediates in organic synthesis. Its bromine is used in brominated flame retardants, fumigants, water purification compounds, dyes, medicines and disinfectants. Its production sites are located in the Shandong Province in northeastern China. Its production feeds include natural brine, vitriol, chlorine, sulfur and coal.

Crude Salt

The Company also produces crude salt, which is produced from the evaporation of the wastewater after its bromine production process. Once the brine is returned to the surface and the bromine is removed, the remaining brine is pumped to ons ite containing pools and then exposed to natural sunshine. T! his causes the water to evaporate from the brine, resulting in salt being left over afterwards. Crude salt is the principal material in alkali production, as well as chlorine alkali production and is used in the chemical, food and beverage, and other industries.

Chemical Products

The Company produces chemical products through its wholly owned subsidiary, SYCI. The products it produces include hydroxyl guar gum, demulsified agent, corrosion inhibitor for acidizing, bactericide, chelant, iron ion stabilizer, clay stabilizing agent, flocculants agent, remaining agent, expanding agent, bromopropane, environmental friendly additive products, solid lubricant and polyether lubricant.

Gulf Resources competes with Shandong Yuyuan Group Company Limited, Shandong Haihua Group Company Limited, Shandong Dadi Salt Chemical Group Company Limited, Shandong Haiwang Chemical Company Limited, Shandong Weifang Longwei Industrial Company Limited, Shandong Caiyangzi Saltworks, Beijing Tianqing Chemical Company Limited, Shandong Weifang Shuangxing Pesticides Company Limited, Zibo Dacheng Pesticides Company Limited, Befar Group Company Limited, China Eastar (Group) Chemical Industry Company Limited and Pecome Technologies Limited.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Roberto Pedone]

    Another under-$10 basic materials player that’s starting to move within range of triggering a major breakout trade is Gulf Resources (GURE), which manufactures and trades bromine and crude salt, and manufactures and sells chemical products used in oil and gas field exploration. This stock has been a favorite target of the bulls so far in 2013, with shares up sharply by 140%.

    If you take a look at the chart for Gulf Resources, you’ll notice that this stock has been uptrending strong for the last six months, with shares soaring higher from its low of $1.10 to its recent high of $3.10 a share. During that uptrend, shares of GURE have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. That move has now pushed shares of GURE within range of triggering a major breakout trade.

    Market players should now look for long-biased trades in GURE if it manages to break out above some near-term overhead resistance levels at $2.87 to its 52-week high at $3.10 a share with high volume. Look for a sustained move or close above those levels with volume that hits near or above its three-month average action of 467,986 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then GURE will set up to enter new 52-week high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $4 to $4.50 a share.

    Traders can look to buy GURE off any weakness to anticipate that breakout and simply use a stop that sits right below some near-term support levels at $2.38 a share, or near its 50-day moving average of $2.23 a share. One can also buy GURE off strength once it starts to clear those breakout levels with volume and then simply use a stop that sits a comfortable percentage from your entry point.

  • [By Paul Ausick]

    Big Earnings Movers: Gogo Inc. (NASDAQ: GOGO) is up 28.3% at $24.05. Gulf Resources Inc. (NASDAQ: GURE) is up 15.8% at $2.46.

    Stocks on the Move: ViroPharma Inc. (NASDAQ: VPHM) is up 25.4% at $49.38 on a $4.2 billion buyout offer from London-listed Shire. Zalicus Inc. (NASDAQ: ZLCS) is down 72.3% at $1.30 on a failed drug trial.

Top Chemical Stocks For 2015: Rentech Nitrogen Partners LP (RNF)

Rentech Nitrogen Partners, L.P. is a provider of clean energy solutions and nitrogen fertilizer, to own, operate and grow its nitrogen fertilizer business. The Company primarily produces anhydrous ammonia, or ammonia, and urea ammonium nitrate solution (UAN), at the Company’s facility, using natural gas as its primary feedstock. In November 2012, the Company acquired Agrifos LLC.

The Company’s facility is located in the center of the Mid Corn Belt. The Mid Corn Belt includes the States of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio. The Company considers its market to be consisted of the States of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Robert Rapier]

    2. Rentech Nitrogen Partners

    Rentech Nitrogen Partners (NYSE: RNF) is a variable distribution MLP that saw fertilizer margins decline in response to much higher natural gas prices than in 2012. As a result, by the third quarter the distribution was reduced to $0.27/unit, down from $0.50 in Q1 and $0.85 in Q2. The unit price for the year declined by 54 percent in 2013.

    3. EV Energy Partners

  • [By Sally Jones] urrent share price is $17.34, or 64.7% off the 52-week high of $49.18.

    Down 54% over 12 months, RNF has a market cap of $673.66 million, and trades with a P/B of 13.30. The dividend yield is 13.67%.

    Rentech Nitrogen Partners LP is a pure-play nitrogen fertilizer company structured as a publicly traded master limited partnership. The company manufactures and sells nitrogen fertilizer products including ammonia, UAN solution and ammonium sulfate.

    Guru Action: As of Sept. 30, 2013, there is one guru stakeholder and one recent insider sell.

    As of Sept. 30, 2013, the sole guru owner Jim Simons reduced his position by 14.04%, selling 49,490 shares at an average price of $28.06 for a loss of 38.2%.

    Over four losing quarters, he has averaged a loss of 52% on 352,600 shares at an average price of $36.30 per share. Selling, he has averaged a loss of 38% on 49,490 shares at an average price of $28.06 per share.

    His current shares of 303,110 represe nt 0.78% of shares outstanding.

    Track share pricing, revenue and net income:

    Highlight: Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TRQ)

    The current share price is $3.25, or 66.2% off the 52-week high of $9.62.

    Down 57% over 12 months, TRQ has a market cap of $3.27 billion, and trades with a P/B of 0.60. The company does not pay a dividend.

    Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. is an international mining company focused on copper, gold and coal mines in the Asia Pacific region. The company has other projects containing molybdenum, rhenium, copper, gold, zinc, silver and uranium.

    Guru Action: As of Sept. 30, 2013, there are six guru stakeholders and one recent insider trade.

    The top guru owner is RS Investment Management who increased its position by 29.59% in the third quarter of 2013, buying 13,234,642 shares at an average price of $5.12 for a loss of 36.5%.

    Over six losing quarters, the firm has averaged a loss of 55% on 57,968,897 share s at an average price

  • [By Maxx Chatsko]

    Meanwhile, the fine print in the 10-K of Rentech Nitrogen Partners (NYSE: RNF  ) noted that every increase of $0.10 per MMBtu of natural gas increases its production costs by $3.50 per ton of ammonia produced. Natural gas futures have increased by $2.10 per MMBtu since April 2012, which calls for an eye-popping experiment.

Top Chemical Stocks For 2015: Albemarle Corp (ALB)

Albemarle Corporation (Albemarle), incorporated in 1993, is a developer, manufacturer and marketer of specialty chemicals, which meet customer needs across a range of end markets, including the petroleum refining, consumer electronics, plastics/packaging, construction, automotive, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, crop protection, food-safety and custom chemistry services markets. As of December 31, 2011, the Company and its joint ventures operated 50 facilities, encompassing production, research and development facilities, and administrative and sales offices in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Australia. It serves approximately 3,000 customers in over 100 countries. It operates in three segments: Polymer Solutions, Catalysts and Fine Chemistry. On May 11, 2011, the Company acquired Catilin Inc. In October 2013, Albemarle Corp acquired Cambridge Chemical Co Ltd.

Polymer Solutions

The Company’s Polymer Solutions seg ment consists of two product market categories: flame retardants and stabilizers and curatives. Its products include plastic enclosures for consumer electronics, printed circuit boards, wire and cable, electrical connectors, textiles, foam insulation, and foam seating in furniture and automobiles. Its brominated flame retardants include products such as Saytex; its mineral-based flame retardants include products, such as Martinal and Magnifin, and its phosphorus-based flame retardants include products, such as Antiblaze and Ncendx.

The Company produces plastic additives, as well as other additives, such as curatives, antioxidants and stabilizers. Its additives products include curatives for polyurethane, polyurea, and epoxy system polymerization. This business also produces antioxidants and stabilizers. Its Ethacure curatives are used in cast elastomers, coatings, reaction injection molding (RIM) and specialty adhesives, which are incorporated into products, su ch as wheels, tires and rollers. Its line of Ethanox antioxi! dants is used by manufacturers of polyolefins to maintain physical properties during the manufacturing process, including the color of the final product. These antioxidants are found in applications, such as slit film, wire and cable, food packaging and pipes.

The Company produces antioxidants used in fuels and lubricants. Its line of Ethanox fuel and lubricant antioxidants is used by refiners and fuel marketers to extend fuel storage life and protect fuel systems, and by oil marketers and lubricant manufacturers to extend the useful life of lubricating oils, fluids and greases used in engines and various types of machinery. Its polymer solutions segment offers more than 80 products to a range of end-markets. It sells its products to chemical manufacturers and processors, such as polymer resin suppliers, lubricant manufacturers, refiners and other specialty chemical companies.

The Company competes with Chemtura Corporation, Israel Chemicals Ltd, Jia ngsu Yoke Technology Co., Ltd., Zhejiang Wansheng Chemical Co., Ltd., J.M. Huber Corporation, Kyowa Chemical Industry Co., Ltd., Nabaltec GmbH, BASF Corporation, Chemtura Corporation and Songwon Industrial Co., Ltd.,

Catalysts

The Company’s Catalysts segment includes its refinery catalysts and catalyst solutions businesses. Its main refinery catalysts product lines are hydroprocessing catalysts (HPC), and fluidized catalytic cracking (FCC), catalysts and additives. HPC catalysts are used to reduce the quantity of sulfur and other impurities in petroleum products, as well as to convert feedstock into lighter products. FCC catalysts assist in the cracking of petroleum streams into derivative, higher-value products, such as fuels and petrochemical feedstock. Its FCC additives are used to remove sulfur in gasoline and to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide in FCC units. It offers approximately 130 different HPC catalysts products an d approximately 40 different FCC catalysts and additives pro! ducts to ! its customers.

The Company has three business units in its performance catalyst solutions (PCS) division: polymer catalysts, chemical catalysts and electronic materials. It manufactures organometallic co-catalysts, as well as metallocene components and co-catalysts. It also offers finished Single-Site catalysts with or without its ActivCat technology and a range of Ziegler-Natta catalysts under the Advantage brand. Its co-catalysts and finished catalysts are used in its customers’ production of polyolefin polymers. Such polymers are commodity (Ziegler Natta polymerization technology) and specialty (Single Site polymerization technology) plastics serving a range of end markets, including packaging, non-packaging, films and injection molding. Some of its organometallic products are also used in the manufacture of alpha-olefins (hexene, octane and decene). In electronic materials, it manufacture and sells metal organic products into electronic applications, such as the production of light emitting diodes (LEDs) for displays and general lighting, as well as other products used in the production of solar cells. Its chemical catalysts include a range of catalysts used in the chemical industry.

The Company competes with Criterion Catalysts and Technologies, W.R. Grace & Co./Advanced Refining Technologies, Haldor Topsoe, W.R. Grace & Co., BASF Corporation, AkzoNobel and Chemtura Corporation.

Fine Chemistry

The Company’s Fine Chemistry segment consists of two categories: performance chemicals, and fine chemistry services and intermediates. Performance chemicals include products, such as elemental bromine, alkyl bromides, inorganic bromides, brominated powdered activated carbon and a range of bromine fine chemicals. Its products are used in chemical synthesis, oil and gas well drilling and completion fluids, mercury control, paper manufacturing, water purification, beef and poultry processing and ot her industrial applications. Other performance chemicals, wh! ich it pr! oduces include tertiary amines for surfactants, biocides, disinfectants and sanitizers; potassium-based products used in industrial applications; alkenyl succinic anhydride used in paper-sizing formulations, and aluminum oxides used in a range of refractory, ceramic and polishing applications. It sells these products to customers globally for use in personal care products, automotive insulation, foundry bricks and other industrial products.

The Company’s fine chemistry services business offers custom manufacturing, research and chemical scale-up services for companies. Its pharmaceutical bulk active is ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is used to provide pain relief and fever reduction. Bulk ibuprofen is formulated by pharmaceutical companies, which sells in both the prescription and over-the-counter markets. The Company also produces a range of intermediates used in the manufacture of a range of over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

The Company’s agrich emicals are sold to agrichemical manufacturers and distributors, which produce and distribute finished agricultural herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and soil fumigants. Its products include orthoalkylated anilines used in the acetanilide family of pre-emergent herbicides used with corn, soybeans and other crops and methyl bromide, which is used as a soil fumigant. It also manufactures and supplies a range of custom chemical intermediates for the agricultural industry.

The Company competes with Chemtura Corporation, Israel Chemicals, BASF Corporation, Lonza, Clariant Ltd. and Cilag AG.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Marc Bastow]

    Specialty chemicals developer, manufacturer and distributor Albemarle (ALB) raised its quarterly dividend 15% to 27.5 cents per share, payable April 1 to shareholders of record as of March 14.
    ALB Dividend Yield: 1.66%

  • [By James E. Brumley]

    If you’re looking for some trading action, then Organovo Holdings Inc. (NYSEMKT:ONVO) and Albemarle Corporation (NYSE:ALB) are the two top names to put on your radar today. Granted, they’re trading candidates for completely opposing reasons. In fact, the best “play” may be to swap one for the other. However you want to play it though, here’s what you need to know about ALB and ONVO.

  • [By Rich Duprey]

    Specialty chemicals maker Albemarle  (NYSE: ALB  )  announced yesterday a second-quarter dividend in the amount of $0.24 per share, the same rate it paid in February after having raised it from $0.20 per share in the prior quarter.

  • [By Rich Duprey]

    Specialty chemicals maker Albemarle (NYSE: ALB  ) announced yesterday its third-quarter dividend of $0.24 per share, the same rate it’s paid for the past two quarters after raising the payout 20% from $0.20 per share.

Top Chemical Stocks For 2015: Ashland Inc. (ASH)

Ashland Inc. operates as a specialty chemicals company in the United States and internationally. Its Ashland Aqualon Functional Ingredients segment produces cellulose ethers; and specialty additives and functional ingredients. Its products offer functionality, such as thickening and rheology control; water retention; adhesive strength; binding power; film formation; protective colloid, suspending, and emulsifying action; foam control; and pH stability. The company?s Ashland Hercules Water Technologies segment manufactures papermaking chemicals and supplies specialty chemicals. It offers sizing agents, wet/dry strength additives, and crepe and release additives for tissue manufacturing; and deposit control agents, defoamers, biocides, and other process additives. This segment also provides specialized chemicals and consulting services for the utility water treatment; and performance-based feed and control systems; and monitoring devices and remote system surveillance. Its A shland Performance Materials segment manufactures and supplies specialty chemicals and customized services to the building and construction, transportation, metal casting, packaging and converting, and marine markets. It also offers unsaturated polyester and vinyl ester resins, and gelcoats; adhesives and specialty resins; and metal casting consumables and design services. The company?s Ashland Consumer Markets segment produces and markets packaged automotive lubricants, chemicals, appearance products, antifreeze, and filters to the private passenger car, light truck, and heavy duty markets. It also operates a quick-lube franchise under the name of Valvoline Instant Oil Change. The company was founded in 1918 and is headquartered in Covington, Kentucky.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Victor Selva] ow such a promising comeback, and the drop in revenue during 2012 was anticipated by investor Jean-Marie Eveillard (Trades, Portfolio), who sold out his 3.9 million share position by the third quarter of that year.

    Another industry giant, Huntsman Corporation (HUN) did show more promising results, and less volatile revenues during these last years. This, of course, has led to a high price to earnings ratio discouraging investors as we see later.

    Geographically Diversified

    On 2012, almost 50% of Eastman sales were generated in North America, while more than 25% were in Asia and 20% in Europe, Middle East and Africa. This diversification is to be taken into account since it guarantees long-term revenue, even if cigarette consumption decreases in some specific region (for instance, American sales declined  in recent years), which would stabilize acetate tow demands worldwide.

    Industrial Background and Gurus’ Preference

    Eastman’s earnings per share growth was significantly higher than industry median (46.9% vs. 5.2%) but so was Huntsman’s, at 46.5%. The critical difference between these two industry giants stands out by looking at their price to earnings: Eastman’s is below median (16.4 vs. 19.1) while Huntsman rose up to 130.1, thus entailing a significant price premium relative to industry peers’ average.

    Although Ashland does have an inferior price to earnings ratio than Eastman’s (11.5), there’s a significant difference in their earnings per share growth: 27%, probably caused by a decline in revenue.

    This might have been one of the reasons that motivated investors David Dreman (Trades, Portfolio) and Joel Greenblatt (Trades, Portfolio) to significantly reduce their stake in Huntsman (both of them by more than 80% margin). In contrast, Leon Cooperman (Trades, Portfolio) and Scott Black (Trades, Portfolio), reinforced their positions in Eastman. Most notably, Ray Dalio (Trades, Portfolio)

  • [By Seth Jayson]

    Calling all cash flows
    When you are trying to buy the market’s best stocks, it’s worth checking up on your companies’ free cash flow once a quarter or so, to see whether it bears any relationship to the net income in the headlines. That’s what we do with this series. Today, we’re checking in on Ashland (NYSE: ASH  ) , whose recent revenue and earnings are plotted below.

  • [By Shauna O’Brien]

    Jefferies reported on Thursday that it has cut its rating on chemical company Ashland Inc. (ASH).

    The firm has downgraded ASH from “Buy” to “Hold,” and has lowered the company’s price target from $104 to $97. This price target suggests a 9% upside from the stock’s current price of $88.47.

    Analyst Laurence Alexander commented: “Investor confidence in the asset shuffling thesis may not withstand 2-3 more rounds of downward revisions to EPS and FCF forecasts for 2014E-2016E.”

    “Pension headwinds, incentive comp, Valvoline marketing expenses, sluggish end markets: in our view, it all adds up, and makes further multiple expansion more difficult.”

    Looking ahead, the firm has reduced estimates for the fourth quarter from $1.70 to $1.59 per share. For FY2013, earnings estimates have been lowered from $6.25 to $6.15 per share. FY2014 estimates have been cut from $7.45 to $6.75 per share.

    Ashland shares were mostly flat during pre-market trading Thursday. The stock is up 10% YTD

Top Chemical Stocks For 2015: LSB Industries Inc (LXU)

LSB Industries, Inc., incorporated on January 21, 1977, is a diversified holding company involved in manufacturing and marketing operations through its subsidiaries. The Company together with its wholly owned subsidiaries owns Chemical Business and Climate Control Business. Chemical Business manufactures and sells nitrogen-based chemical products produced from four facilities located in El Dorado, Arkansas; Cherokee, Alabama; Pryor, Oklahoma, and Baytown, Texas for the agricultural, industrial, and mining markets. Climate Control Business manufactures and sells a range of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) products in the niche markets the Company serves consisting of geothermal and water source heat pumps, hydronic fan coils, large custom air handlers, modular geothermal and other chillers and other related products used to control the environment in commercial/institutional and residential new building construction, renovation of existing buildings and repl acement of existing systems. On October 31, 2012, Zena Energy LLC acquired working interests in certain natural gas properties located in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, within the Marcellus Shale.

Chemical Business

The Company’s products in the Chemical Business include high purity and commercial grade anhydrous ammonia for industrial and agricultural applications, industrial and fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate (AN), urea ammonium nitrate (UAN), sulfuric acids, nitric acids in various concentrations, nitrogen solutions, diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) and various other products. The Company’s Chemical Business is a supplier to chemical and industrial companies. Its other products include anhydrous ammonia, ammonium nitrate ammonia solution for agricultural applications, blended and regular nitric acid, mixed nitrating acids, and industrial grade AN and solutions for the mining industry. The Company sells hese agricultural products to farmers, ranche rs, fertilizer dealers and distributors primarily in the ran! ch land and grain production markets in the United States. The Company’s Chemical Business establishes long-term relationships with wholesale agricultural distributors and retailers and also sells directly to agricultural end-users through its network of wholesale and retail distribution centers. The Company’s Chemical Business manufactures and sells industrial acids and other chemical products primarily to the polyurethane, paper, fibers, fuel additives, emission control, and electronics industries. Its Chemical Business is also a niche market supplier of industrial and high purity ammonia for many specialty applications, including the reduction of air emissions from power plants.

Climate Control Business

The Company’s Climate Control Business manufactures and sells a range of standard and custom designed geothermal and water source heat pumps and hydronic fan coils, as well as custom air handlers and modular chiller systems, including modul ar geothermal chillers and simultaneous heating and cooling modules. These products are for use in commercial/institutional and residential HVAC systems. Its products are installed in some of the commercial/institutional developments in the United States, including the Prudential Tower, Rockefeller Plaza, Trump Tower, Time Warner Center and many others. In addition, it has presence in the lodging sector with installations in numerous Hyatt, Marriott, Four Seasons, Starwood, Ritz Carlton and Hilton hotels, among others. Its Climate Control Business manufactures and distributes its products from seven facilities located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Company also provides geothermal heat pumps in residential and commercial/institutional applications. Its products are sold to the commercial/institutional markets, as well as single and multi-family residential new construction, renovation and replacements. The Company is a provider of hydronic fan coils targeting commercial and institutional markets. It manufactures its products in many! sizes an! d configurations, as required by the purchaser, to fit the space and capacity requirements of hotels, motels, schools, hospitals, apartment buildings, office buildings and other commercial/institutional or residential structures. The Climate Control Business sells its products primarily to mechanical contractors, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and distributors. Its Climate Control Business market includes commercial/institutional and residential new building construction, renovation of existing buildings and replacement of existing systems.

The Company competes with Agrium, CF Industries, Coffeyville Resources, Dyno Nobel, Koch, Potash Corporation, Yara International, Carrier, Trane, Nortek, McQuay, and Bosch.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Roberto Pedone]

    LSB Industries (LXU) manufactures and sells geothermal and water source heat pumps and air handling products and chemical products. This stock closed up 4.6% at $33.72 in Friday’s trading session.

    Friday’s Volume: 543,000

    Three-Month Average Volume: 147,784

    Volume % Change: 252%

    From a technical perspective, LXU ripped higher here right above some near-term support at $31.45 and back above its 50-day moving average of $32.51 with heavy upside volume. This stock also flirted with its 200-day moving average at $35.22, before closing just below that level at $33.72.

    Traders should now look for long-biased trades in LXU as long as it’s trending above its 50-day at $32.51 and then once it sustains a move or close above its 200-day at $35.22 to Friday’s high of $36 with volume that’s near or above 147,784 shares. If we get that move soon, then LXU will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $40.37 to $42.79.

Top Chemical Stocks For 2015: BioAmber Inc (BIOA)

BioAmber Inc. (BioAmber), incorporated on October 15, 2008, is a chemical company. The Company manufactures its bio-succinic acid in a facility using a commercial scale 350,000 liter fermenter in Pomacle, France. During the year ended December 31, 2011, the Company produced 487,000 pounds, or 221 metric tons, of bio-succinic acid at this facility. Succinic acid is used to manufacture a range of products used every day, including plastics, food additives and personal care products, and can also be used as a building block for a range of derivative chemicals. The Company produces and sells bio-succinic acid using its process for petroleum-derived succinic acid. It also has additional bio-based products under development with partners including bio-succinic acid derivatives, such as BDO, and applications of bio-succinic acid, such as plasticizers, polyurethanes and de-icing solutions. During 2011, the Company created a wholly owned subsidiary, BioAmber International, S.a.r.l.

The Company develops bio-succinic acid for a range of markets, such as personal care products and food additives, plasticizers, polyurethanes, resins and coatings. The applications for bio-succinic acid include plasticizers, polyurethanes, personal care products, de-icing solutions, resins and coatings, food additives, lubricants and other products. Plasticizers are organic esters that are primarily used to make flexible polyvinyl chloride. Adipic acid is used in polyester polyols, which are used to make polyurethanes. Polyurethanes are used in, among other things, soles for footwear, molded foams for automotive applications, such as car seats and arm rests, and non-foam applications such as coatings, adhesives and sealants. Other applications of bio-succinic acid that are developed and tested by potential customers, which include anti-freeze solutions, solvents, water treatment chemicals and effervescence agents such laundry tablets and bath salts.

The Company competes with Gadiv Petrochemical Industries ! Ltd., Mitsubishi Chemical, DSM, Anqing Hexing Chemical Co Ltd, Anhui Sunsing Chemicals Co., Ltd., Genomatica, Inc., Myriant Corporation and Roquette Freres S.A.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Matt Jarzemsky]

    Out of the 2013 vintage, some of the best performers so far this year have been early-stage healthcare firms like BioAmber Inc.(BIOA), up 86% year-to-date through Thursday, and Kindred Biosciences Inc.(KIN), up 82%. A number of high-flying tech startups have also continued to soar. Cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc.(FEYE) has gained 67% since the start of the year. Online coupon company RetailMeNot Inc.(SALE) is up 48%.

  • [By Maxx Chatsko]

    He believes several companies have set the bar precipitously low to start the year despite targeted developments expected to occur before the start of 2014. Watch the following video for his thoughts on potential positive surprises awaiting investors in Amyris  (NASDAQ: AMRS  ) , BioAmber  (NYSE: BIOA  ) , Codexis  (NASDAQ: CDXS  ) , and Solazyme  (NASDAQ: SZYM  ) .

Top Chemical Stocks For 2015: Koppers Holdings Inc (KOP)

Koppers Holdings Inc. (Koppers), incorporated on November 12, 2004,is a global provider of carbon compounds and commercial wood treatment products and services. The Company’s products are used in a variety of niche applications in a diverse range of end-markets, including the aluminum, railroad, specialty chemical, utility, concrete and steel industries. The Company serves its customers through a global manufacturing and distribution networks, with manufacturing facilities located in the United States, Australia, China, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Denmark. The Company operates in two business segments: Carbon Materials & Chemicals and railroads & Utility Products.

The Company’s operations are, to a substantial extent, vertically integrated. Through the Company’s Carbon Materials & Chemicals business, the Company processes coal tar into a variety of products, including carbon pitch, creosote, naphthalene and phthalic anhydride, which are intermediat e materials necessary in the production of aluminum, the pressure treatment of wood, the production of high-strength concrete, and the production of plasticizers and specialty chemicals, respectively. Through the Company’s Railroad & Utility Products business, the Company believes that the Company is thesupplier of railroad crossties to the North American railroads.

Carbon Materials & Chemicals

Carbon pitch, naphthalene, and creosote are produced through the distillation of coal tar, a by-product generated through the processing of coal into coke for use in steel and iron manufacturing. Coal tar distillation involves the conversion of coal tar into a variety of intermediate chemical products in processes beginning with distillation. During the distillation process, heat and vacuum are utilized to separate coal tar into three primary components: carbon pitch (approximately 50%), chemical oils (approximately 20%) and creosote (approximately 30%).

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The Company’s Carbon Materials & Chemicals business! (CM&C) manufactures principal products, including carbon pitch, a critical raw material used in the production of aluminum and steel; naphthalene, used for the production of phthalic anhydride and as a surfactant in the production of concrete; phthalic anhydride, used in the production of plasticizers, polyester resins and alkyd paints, and creosote and carbon black feedstock, used in the treatment of wood or as a feedstock in the production of carbon black. The Company also uses naphthalene as a feedstock in the manufacture of phthalic anhydride. The primary markets for phthalic anhydride are in the production of plasticizers, unsaturated polyester resins and alkyd resins. The Company is a producer of carbon pitch for the aluminum industry.

Creosote is used as a commercial wood treatment chemical to preserve railroad crossties and lumber, utility poles and piling. The majority of the Company’s domestically produced creosote is sold to its Railroad & Utility Pr oducts business. In Australia, China and Europe, creosote is sold primarily into the carbon black market for use as a feedstock in the production of carbon black. In Europe and China creosote is also sold to wood treaters. The Company’s wood treating plants in the United States purchase substantially all of their creosote from the Company’s tar distillation plants.

Other products include the sale of refined tars, benzole and specialty chemicals. The Company’s CM&C business manufactures its primary products and sells them directly to the Company’s global customer base under long-term contracts or through purchase orders negotiated by its regional sales personnel and coordinated through its global marketing group in the United States. The Company’s nine coal tar distillation facilities including joint ventures and four carbon materials terminals give the Company the ability to offer customers multiple sourcing and a consistent supply of products.

Rail road & Utility Products

The Company’s Railroad ! & Utility! Products business (R&UP) sells treated and untreated wood products, rail joint bars and services primarily to the railroad and public utility markets in the United States and Australia. The Company also produces concrete crossties, a complementary product to its wood treatment business, through a joint venture in the United States.

Railroad products include procuring and treating items such as crossties, switch ties and various types of lumber used for railroad bridges and crossings. Railroad products also include manufacturing and selling rail joint bars, which are steel bars used to join rails together for railroads. Utility products include transmission and distribution poles for electric and telephone utilities and piling used in industrial foundations, beach housing, docks and piers. The R&UP business operates 13 wood treating plants, one rail joint bar manufacturing facility, one co-generation facility and 13 pole distribution yards located throughout the United States and Australia. The Company’s network of plants is strategically located near timber supplies to enable the Company to access raw materials and service customers effectively. In addition, the Company’s crosstie treating plants are typically adjacent to its railroad customers’ track lines, and its pole distribution yards are typically located near its utility customers.

In the United States, hardwood lumber is procured by the Company from hundreds of small sawmills throughout the northeastern, midwestern and southern areas of the country. The crossties are shipped via rail car or trucked directly to one of the Company’s crosstie treating plants, all of which are on line with a railroad. The crossties are either air-stacked for a period of six to twelve months or artificially dried by a process called boultonizing. Once dried, the crossties are pressure treated with creosote, a product of the Company’s CM&C business.

The Company’s R&UP b usiness’ customer base is the North American Class I railroa! d market,! which buys approximately 80% of all crossties produced in the United States and Canada. The Company also has relationships with many of the approximately 550 short-line and regional rail lines. This also forms the customer base for the Company’s rail joint bar products. The railroad crosstie market is a mature market with approximately 23 million replacement crossties (both wood and non-wood) purchased during 2012. The Company supplies all seven of the North American Class I railroads and have contracts with six of them. The Company treats poles with a variety of preservatives, including pentachlorophenol, copper chrome arsenates and creosotes .In the United States the market for utility pole products is characterized by a number of small producers selling into a price-sensitive industry. The utility pole market is fragmented domestically, with over 200 investor-owned electric and telephone utilities and 2,900 smaller municipal utilities and rural electric associations.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Jeremy Bowman]

    What: Shares of Koppers Holdings (NYSE: KOP  ) were looking rusty today, falling as much as 12% after the company cut its outlook for the current quarter.

Top Chemical Stocks For 2015: PPG Industries Inc.(PPG)

PPG Industries, Inc. manufactures and supplies protective and decorative coatings. The company offers coatings products for automotive and commercial transport/fleet repair and refurbishing, specialty coatings for signs, and light industrial coatings; and sealants, coatings, and technical cleaners/transparencies for commercial, military, regional jet, general aviation aircraft, and transparent armor for military land vehicles. It also provides coatings and finishes for the protection of metals and structures to metal fabricators, heavy duty maintenance contractors, and manufacturers of ships, bridges, rail cars, and shipping containers; and coatings to painting and maintenance contractors. In addition, PPG sells industrial and automotive coatings to manufacturing companies; adhesives and sealants for the automotive industry; metal pretreatments and related chemicals; and coatings and inks for aerosol, food, and beverage containers. Further, it supplies lenses, sunlenses, a nd optical lens materials; amorphous precipitated silicas for tire and battery separator markets; and Teslin substrate used in radio frequency identification tags and labels, e-passports, drivers? licenses, and identification cards applications. Additionally, PPG offers chlor-alkali and derivative products, such as chlorine, caustic soda, vinyl chloride monomer, chlorinated solvents, calcium hypochlorite, ethylene dichloride, hydrochloric acid, and phosgene derivatives to chemical processing, rubber and plastics, paper, minerals, metals, and water treatment industries. It also produces flat glass and continuous-strand fiber glass for commercial and residential construction, wind energy, energy infrastructure, transportation, and electronics industries. PPG sells its products through company-owned stores, home centers, paint dealers, and independent distributors, as well as directly to customers worldwide. The company was founded in 1883 and is headquartered in Pittsburgh, P e nnsylvania.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Rich Duprey]

    Privately held specialty-coatings producer Deft will be acquired by PPG Industries (NYSE: PPG  ) for an undisclosed sum. 

    Deft’s primary business is supplying structural primers and military topcoats to the North American aviation industry, as well as architectural and industrial coatings, though they comprise much smaller parts of its business.

  • [By Monica Gerson]

    PPG Industries (NYSE: PPG) is expected to report its Q3 earnings at $2.34 per share on revenue of $3.96 billion.

    Nucor (NYSE: NUE) is estimated to report its Q3 earnings at $0.39 per share on revenue of $4.78 billion.

Top Chemical Stocks For 2015: Givaudan SA (GIVN)

Givaudan SA is a Switzerland-based holding company engaged in the fragrance and flavor industry. The Company has two business divisions: Fragrances and Flavors. The Fragrances business segment comprises the manufacture and sale of fragrances into three global business units: Fine Fragrances, comprising signature fragrances and line extensions, Consumer Products, comprising fabric and personal care, hair and skin care, household and air care, as well as oral care, and Fragrance Ingredients. The Flavors business division comprises the manufacture and sale of flavors into four business units: Beverages, comprising flavors for soft drinks, fruit juices and instant beverages; Dairy, comprising ice cream, yoghurt, desserts and yellow fats; Savory, covering soups and sauces, among others; and Confectionery. The Company is also engaged in research and development activities, which comprises the development of a palette of perfumery raw materials, both synthetic and natural. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Inyoung Hwang]

    Berkeley Group Holdings Plc (BKG) surged 8.3 percent after saying first-half profit rose 22 percent. London Stock Exchange Group Plc (LSE) climbed 2.4 percent after Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit recommended buying the stock. Givaudan SA (GIVN) lost 1.3 percent after Nestle SA said it will sell $1.27 billion of shares in the world’s largest flavorings maker.

  • [By Celeste Perri]

    Nestle SA (NESN) is selling Givaudan (GIVN) SA shares worth $1.27 billion at yesterday’s closing price to institutional investors, winding down its stake in the world’s largest flavorings maker.

  • [By Seth Jayson]

    Calling all cash flows
    When you are trying to buy the market’s best stocks, it’s worth checking up on your companies’ free cash flow once a quarter or so, to see whether it bears any relationship to the net income in the headlines. That’s what we do with this series. Today, we’re checking in on Given Imaging (Nasdaq: GIVN  ) , whose recent revenue and earnings are plotted below.

Top Chemical Stocks For 2015: ICL Israel Chemicals Ltd (ISCHY.PK)

ICL Israel Chemicals Ltd (ICL) is an Israel-based company, engaged in the fertilizer and specialty chemical sectors. The company operates in three segments: Fertilizers, Industrial Products, and Performance Products. The Fertilizers segment is engaged in the production of standard, granular, fine red and white potash from three sources, as well as in the production of phosphates, such as phosphate rock, phosphoric acid, fertilizers and animal feed addictives. The Industrial Products segment produces flame retardants, such as brominates and organ phosphorus; elemental bromine, and other chemicals. In addition the Performance Products segment produces specialty phosphates, such as technical, food grade and electronic grade phosphoric acid, phosphate salts, food additives and wildfire safety products, as well as alumina and other chemicals. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Chris Damas]

    I never thought Uralkali would get back together with Belaruskali as I expressed in this article written a day after the break-up roiled the fertilizer world, causing 20% plunges in the stocks of major producers such as Potash Corp (POT), Mosaic Company (MOS) and Israel Chemicals Ltd (ISCHY.PK).

Top Chemical Stocks For 2015: Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc.(POT)

Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. produces and sells fertilizers and related industrial and feed products primarily in the United States and Canada. The company mines and produces potash, which is used as fertilizer. It also offers solid and liquid phosphate fertilizers; animal feed supplements; and industrial acids that are used in food products and industrial processes. In addition, the company produces nitrogen fertilizers, as well as nitrogen feed and industrial products, including ammonia, urea, nitrogen solutions, ammonium nitrate, and nitric acid. Further, it holds the right to mine 785,759 acres of land in Saskatchewan; and 58,263 acres of land in New Brunswick in Canada. The company sells its fertilizers primarily to retailers, dealers, co-operatives, distributors, and other fertilizer producers; industrial products primarily to chemical product manufacturers; and purified phosphoric acid directly to consumers of the product. Potash Corporation was founded i n 1953 and is based in Saskatoon, Canada.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Tomi Kilgore]

    Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan(POT) rose 0.5%, Mosaic(MOS) gained 0.1% and Intrepid Potash(IPI) climbed 0.7%. In addition, CF Industries Holdings(CF) tacked on 1.4% and Agrium(AGU.T) advanced 1.1%.

  • [By Rich Duprey]

    Canpotex, the cartel’s rival North American potash marketing association, comprised of Mosaic (NYSE: MOS  ) , PotashCorp (NYSE: POT  ) , and Agrium (NYSE: AGU  ) , is a major supplier of potash to Brazil, with some analysts estimating it owns 38% of the market. In years past, Latin America — primarily the Brazilian market — has comprised as much as 26% of Canpotex’s potash sales.

  • [By Jim Jubak]

    That’s certainly not good news for such agriculture stocks as fertilizer producers Potash of Saskatchewan (POT), Mosaic (MOS), and Yara International (YARIY). And it’s not good news for Deere for 2014, as a whole, either. The company lowered guidance for the quarter that ends in April to sales of $9.65 billion, versus the current Wall Street consensus of $9.89 billion. That would represent a 6% drop in sales in the quarter.

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT), for instance, lost 16% last year, while Mosaic (MOS) dropped 15%, Intrepid Potash (IPI) plunged 26% and Agrium (AGU) declined 5.9%.