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Albemarle (ALB) Q1 Earnings & Sales Trump, Lifts FY16 View

Albemarle ALB saw its profits shoot up in the first quarter of 2016, helped by gains on sale of businesses. The chemical maker logged profit of $228.2 million or $2.02 per share for the quarter, a more than five-fold surge from the year-ago profit of $43.1 million or 40 cents per share.

Barring one-time items, earnings were $1.12 per share, outstripping the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 85 cents.

Revenues fell roughly 2% year over year to $865.4 million. Higher sales volumes and better price and mix in specific businesses were more than offset by the impacts of the sale of metal sulfides and minerals-based flame retardants and specialty chemicals businesses and unfavorable currency swings. Revenues, however, came ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $836 million.

Albemarle, in Feb 2016, wrapped up the sale of its mineral flame retardants and specialty chemicals businesses to Huber Engineered Materials – a division of leading global manufacturer of flame retardant additives, J.M. Huber Corporation. Also, in Jan 2016, Albemarle completed the divestiture of the tribotecc metal sulfides business to Treibacher Industrie AG, a leading player in the chemistry and metallurgy sectors.

Albemarle recorded total net gains of around $121.3 million associated with the sale of metal sulfides and minerals-based flame retardants and specialty chemicals businesses in the reported quarter.

Segment Highlights

Sales from the Lithium and Advanced Materials division went up around 9% year over year to $216.2 million in the first quarter, aided by higher lithium sales volumes and improved pricing, partly masked by lower PCS (performance catalyst solutions and curatives) sales and currency headwinds.

Bromine Specialties segment sales rose roughly 4% year over year to $196.6 million on increased sales volumes and favorable pricing, partly offset by unfavorable currency impact.

Sales from the Refining Solutions division fell around 5% to $170.6 million, hurt by currency impact and lower Clean Fuels Technology volumes.  

The Chemetall Surface Treatment unit logged net sales of $208.2 million in the first quarter, up around 8% year over year, as unfavorable currency impact was more than offset by higher sales volumes and favorable pricing.

Financials

Albemarle exited the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $252.4 million, down around 3% year over year. Long-term debt was $3,105.4 million, down roughly 12% year over year. Operating cash flows surged nearly four-fold year over year to around $172.7 million for the first quarter.

Outlook

Albemarle said that it remains committed to deliver growth in its core businesses and increase free cash flows on a year over year basis in 2016. The company has raised its guidance for 2016 based on strong first-quarter results and expectations for continued growth in most of its businesses.

Adjusted earnings for the year are now expected to be between $3.90 and $4.25 per share, up from the prior view of $3.45 and $3.80 per share. The company now expects adjusted EBITDA of between $920 million and $970 million for 2016, up from $900 million and $950 million expected earlier. Net sales are expected to be between $3.3 billion and $3.6 billion, also up from the prior view of $3.2 billion and $3.4 billion.

Free cash flow (on a reported basis) for 2016 has been forecast in the band of $450 million to $550 million.

Zacks Rank

Albemarle currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Better-ranked companies in the chemical space include Akzo Nobel N.V. AKZOY, Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Co. Ltd. SHI and Koninklijke DSM N.V. RDSMY, all sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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ALBEMARLE CORP (ALB): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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