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Specialty chemicals company Albemarle Corporation (ALB - Snapshot Report) said that its joint venture, Saudi Organometallic Chemicals Company (SOCC), has commenced initial production at its tri-ethyl aluminum (TEA) facility in Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia.  
 
SOCC is equally owned by Albemarle Netherlands B.V., a unit of Albemarle, and Saudi Specialty Chemical Company, an affiliate of leading petrochemical company Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC). 
 
At capacity, the state-of-the-art aluminum alkyls facility will produce 6,000 metric tons per year of TEA, used as a co-catalyst in the plastics industry. The plant will also make ultra-low hydride grade of TEA (ULH-TEA).  The facility is geared to address the growing needs for TEA and ULH-TEA in the Middle East, leveraging raw materials supplied from member nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
 
The first batch of TEA, which was successfully completed in mid-April 2013, met or surpassed all commercial specifications. Full commercial production is slated to commence in third-quarter 2013 following the competition of customer qualifications.
 
Baton Rouge, La.-based Albemarle is a premier global developer, producer, and marketer of highly-engineered specialty chemicals for consumer electronics, petroleum refining, utilities, packaging, construction, automotive/transportation, pharmaceuticals, crop protection, food-safety and custom chemistry services. The company operates with more than 4,000 employees and serves customers around 100 countries.  
 
Albemarle‘s first-quarter 2013 results, released in Apr 2013, were disappointing as both revenues and adjusted earnings missed Zacks Consensus Estimates. Its adjusted earnings for the quarter were 93 cents per share, trailing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.00. Profit, as reported, tumbled roughly 27% year over year to $84 million or 94 cents per share.
 
Revenues fell roughly 10% year over year to $641.6 million in the quarter, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $674 million. The results were hurt by Albemarle’s exit from the phosphorus flame retardants business, lower metals surcharges and pricing on some products.
 
Albemarle, which currently holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), will release its second quarter results on Jul 17.
 
Other companies in the chemical industry with favorable Zacks Rank are Cytec Industries Inc. (CYT - Snapshot Report), Olin Corp. (OLN - Snapshot Report) and PPG Industries Inc. (PPG - Analyst Report). While both Cytec and Olin retains a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), PPG holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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