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CVR Partners (UAN): What's in Store This Earnings Season?

CVR Partners, LP UAN is set to release its first-quarter 2016 results ahead of the bell on Apr 28.

In the last quarter, the company reported earnings of 26 cents per share. The company beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 17 cents, posting a positive earnings surprise of 52.94%. Net sales for the quarter were $66 million, also surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate, recording a positive surprise of 10.74%.

However, on a year-over-year basis, the company’s performance suffered, with net sales as well as earnings in fourth-quarter 2015 witnessing a decline from the year-ago quarter. Net sales and net income fell 11.3% and 24.6%, year over year, respectively.

Let’s take a look at how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Factors to Consider

CVR Partners, in its fourth-quarter call, noted that the current pricing environment for nitrogen fertilizer is more challenging than in the recent past.

The company has been busy preparing for the spring application season. Industrial reports and the company’s findings in the major customer markets indicated that just 50%–60% of the typical amount of nitrogen was applied last fall. Management seems confident that this will lead to higher nitrogen demand in the spring planting season of 2016.

The first quarter is not expected to see much increase in demand ahead of the spring season, owing to economic slowdown in major customer countries like Brazil and China, and overall poor weather conditions around the globe.

On the bright side, however, lower current demand is expected to improve sales in the spring season. Demand in ammonia is anticipated to be particularly affected as adverse weather conditions continue to prevail in the Midwest. The number of corn acres to be planted in 2016 is expected to be similar to that of 2015. This should support strong North American nitrogen fertilizer demand, particularly for the spring application season.

The last quarter saw the company concentrating on its deal with Rentech Nitrogen, which was eventually concluded a day after the March quarter ended, on Apr 1.

The acquisition offers a compelling opportunity as the merger creates one of the biggest urea ammonium nitrate (“UAN”) producers in North America. CVR Partners anticipates the deal to be double-digit accretive to distributable cash per unit before synergies. The merged entity is expected to realize synergies of at least $12 million, partly through savings in selling, general & administrative costs, and logistics and procurement improvements.

Overall, we can expect a relatively slow first quarter. The soft pricing run of the third and fourth quarters of 2015 is expected to continue. The company’s focus in the first quarter remained on enhancing efficiency and bracing for the quarter that has just begun.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that CVR Partners is likely to beat earnings this quarter. This 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. Unfortunately, as elaborated below, it is not the case with CVR Partners.

Zacks ESP: Earnings ESP for CVR Partners is 0.00% as the Most Accurate Estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate both stand at 21 cents.

Zacks Rank: CVR Partners carries a Zacks Rank #2, which increases the predictive power of ESP. However, the company’s ESP of 0.00% makes surprise prediction difficult.

Stocks That Warrant a Look

Here are some companies in the basic materials sector you may want to consider, as our model shows that these 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.

Ashland Inc. ASH has an Earnings ESP of +1.74% and a Zacks Rank #3.

Albemarle Corporation ALB has an Earnings ESP of +1.18% and a Zacks Rank #3.

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ASHLAND INC (ASH): Free Stock Analysis Report
ALBEMARLE CORP (ALB): Free Stock Analysis Report
SCOTTS MIRCL-GR (SMG): Free Stock Analysis Report
CVR PARTNERS LP (UAN): Free Stock Analysis Report
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