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FMC Corp. (FMC): Will It Beat Earnings Again Amid Woes?

FMC Corp. FMC will release its first-quarter 2016 results after the closing bell on May 2.
The chemical maker slipped to a loss in the last quarter, hurt by higher restructuring-related charges and unfavorable currency impacts. But its adjusted earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate (a 22.22% positive surprise). Revenues rose modestly year over year, but missed expectations.

FMC Corp. faced significant currency headwinds in the quarter, resulting from depreciation of the Brazilian real vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar. The company’s results were also affected by sustained weakness in the agriculture market.

Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.
Factors to Consider

FMC Corp., in its last earnings call, said that it sees adjusted earnings of $2.50 to $2.80 per share for 2016, representing a 7% year over year rise at the mid-point of the forecast range.

The company expects revenues for its Agricultural Solutions unit to be roughly $2.3 billion to $2.5 billion for 2016. Segment earnings for the year are expected to be in the band of $380 million to $420 million. Earnings for the first quarter have been forecast in the range of $70 million to $90 million.   

For Health and Nutrition, revenues for 2016 are expected to be roughly $775 million to $825 million. Earnings for the year are forecast to be between $198 million and $208 million. For the first quarter, segment earnings are expected to be in the band of $46 million to $51 million. Earnings in 2016 are expected to be driven by sustained demand for excipients and nutritional products in emerging markets and improvement in operational efficiency.

FMC Corp. expects earnings for the Lithium unit to be in the band of $8 million and $12 million for the first quarter and $33 and $43 million for 2016. The company sees strong demand for lithium products and favorable pricing trends to continue this year.

FMC Corp. faces challenging agriculture market fundamentals. Conditions in Brazil still remain weak, evident from a decline in volumes due to lower demand. Reduced acreage is affecting demand for crop protection products in the country. The company also expects agricultural market conditions to remain challenging in North America in 2016 due to elevated channel inventory levels and expected lower farm incomes.

The global crop protection market continues to face several woes, which has resulted in a difficult operating environment. Demand for crop protection products remains weak owing to high channel inventories, poor planting conditions, reduced pest attacks and soft farm commodity prices. FMC Corp. expects the global crop protection chemical market to decline by a mid to high single-digit clip in 2016.

FMC Corp. is also exposed to significant currency headwinds, stemming from a strong greenback. While the company has taken up effective pricing strategy to offset the currency impact, its results remains susceptible to unfavorable translation impact.

In particular, a slump in the value of the Brazilian real has created significant headwinds, hurting earnings in the company's Agricultural Solutions segment. The company’s health and nutrition business is also susceptible to currency headwinds due to its significant euro exposure. This may affect the March quarter results.

Moreover, FMC Corp. is witnessing certain operational challenges in Argentina. A slowdown in the Chinese economy (affecting buyer’s behavior) is also contributing to lower demand for some of its products.

Nevertheless, FMC Corp. is making a good progress with the integration of the acquired operations of Cheminova A/S. It expects to deliver $60 million to $70 million of savings this year from the integration of Cheminova.

Earnings Whispers
Our proven model does not conclusively show that FMC Corp. is likely to beat earnings this quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) for this to happen. That is not the case here as you will see below.

Zacks ESP: Earnings ESP for FMC Corp. is 0.00% as the Most Accurate Estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate both stand at 52 cents.

Zacks Rank: FMC Corp.’s Zacks Rank #3, when combined with a 0.00% ESP, makes surprise prediction difficult.

We caution against stocks with a Zacks Rank #4 or 5 (Sell-rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions.

Stocks That Warrant a Look
Here are some stocks in the basic materials space that you may want to consider, as our model shows they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company SMG has an Earnings ESP of +1.21% and a Zacks Rank #2.

Praxair Inc. PX has an Earnings ESP of +0.79% and a Zacks Rank #2.

Orion Engineered Carbons SA OEC has an Earnings ESP of +13.79% and a Zacks Rank #3.

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