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LyondellBasell (LYB): Will Low Oil, Outages Hit Q1 Earnings?

LyondellBasell Industries LYB is set to release its first-quarter 2016 results ahead of the bell on Apr 22.

Last quarter, the Netherlands-based chemical giant delivered a 4.27% positive earnings surprise. However, its revenues plummeted year over year on weak product pricing and missed expectations.

LyondellBasell has beaten the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the trailing 4 quarters with an average earnings beat of 13.29%.

Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.
Factors to Consider
LyondellBasell, in its fourth-quarter 2015 call, said that it will remain focused on managing costs and improve operating efficiencies amid the challenging market conditions.

LyondellBasell faces volatility in raw material and energy costs that account for a major portion of its operating costs. Depressed oil prices may continue to hurt its North American margins, thereby affecting its profitability in the March quarter. The low oil price environment remains a headwind for the company.

Moreover, the company’s operations are subject to maintenance outages. Planned maintenance is also expected to affect results in the company’s refining business by roughly $40 million in the first quarter. Moreover, turnaround at the company’s olefins cracker in France is expected to impact first-quarter results by roughly $20 million.

However, LyondellBasell continues to benefit from the favorable North American natural gas environment. It should also gain from its ethylene and polyethylene expansions.

The company is executing its expansion projects to leverage the U.S. natural gas liquids (NGLs) advantage. It remains on track with its multi-plant ethylene expansion programs across Channelview, La Porte and Corpus Christi facilities in Texas which benefit from shale gas production.

LyondellBasell has already completed an 800-million pound per year expansion at its La Porte site and a 250-million pounds per year expansion at the Channelview facility. The addition of 800 million pounds of capacity at its Corpus Christi plant is expected to complete by third-quarter 2016.

LyondellBasell is also advancing plans to construct a world-scale plant on the U.S. Gulf Coast for producing propylene oxide (“PO”) and tertiary butyl alcohol (“TBA”), leveraging the shale gas boom in the region.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that LyondellBasell is likely to beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the first quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1, 2 or 3 for this to happen. That is not the case here, as you will see below.

Negative Zacks ESP: The Earnings ESP for LyondellBasell is -1.75%. This is because the Most Accurate Estimate stands at $2.24, while the Zacks Consensus Estimate is pegged at $2.28.

Zacks Rank: LyondellBasell’s Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), when combined with a negative ESP, makes surprise prediction difficult. We caution against stocks with Zacks Rank #4 and 5 (Sell-rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions.

Other 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:

Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. APD has an Earnings ESP of +0.56% and a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

The Dow Chemical Company DOW has an Earnings ESP of +1.21% and a Zacks Rank #2.

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

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