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Air Products to Shut Down Energy-from-Waste Business

Air Products APD said that it will exit its Energy-from-Waste (EfW) business to focus on its core industrial gases business. The company will record a pre-tax charge in the band of $900 million to $1 billion in second-quarter fiscal 2016, mainly to write down assets related to the EfW business.

The company sees modest future cash tax benefit from the write-off. Moreover, the write-down is expected to result in an increase in Air Products’ return on capital employed (ROCE) from continuing operations by roughly 80 basis points. The company will provide more color on the financial impacts of leaving the EfW business in its fiscal second quarter earnings release on April 28.

Air Products noted that recent testing and analysis showed that significant time and costs would be required to resolve additional design and operational challenges associated with the EfW projects (in Tees Valley, UK). As such, Air Products’ board decided to exit the EfW business which would allow the company to direct resources to its core industrial gases business.

Air Products’ shares fell roughly 1.8% to close at $142.70 on Monday.

Air Products, in Sep 2015, announced plans to separate its Materials Technologies unit through a tax-free spin-off (expected to be completed before Sep 2016).

Following the spin-off, both Air Products and the Materials Technologies businesses will operate as two best-in-class public companies with separate business models The spin-off will enable Air Products to become the safest and most profitable industrial gas company in the world, providing outstanding service to its customers. Also, it will allow the company to focus entirely on specialty materials.

Air Products is gaining from a diverse customer base, cost-reduction measures and sustained pricing power. New business deals and strategic investments are expected to support results in fiscal 2016.

Air Products is also keeping a tight control on expenses and undertaking work process improvement initiatives. The company remains on track in delivering on its cost reduction programs, which should support its margins.

However, Air Products' industrial gases business in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region is seeing pressure from a weak operating environment. The company is also exposed to currency headwinds.

Air Products is a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Better-ranked stocks in the diversified chemical space include Arkema S.A. ARKAY, The Dow Chemical Company DOW and Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Co. Ltd. SHI, all sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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