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American Vanguard Beats by a Nickel

MON AVD

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Diversified specialty chemicals maker American Vanguard Corp. (AVD - Snapshot Report) posted a solid jump in its third-quarter 2012 profit riding on strong market demand for its products.

The California-based company logged earnings of 28 cents a share in the quarter, which topped the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 23 cents and surpassed the year-ago quarter’s earnings of 16 cents. Profit shot up 75% year over year to $8.1 million, boosted by healthy sales of its soil fumigants and insecticides.

Revenues soared 23% year over year to $90.8 million, comfortably beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $83 million. Gross margin rose to 43.7% from 41.4% a year ago, aided by better mix, higher pricing and manufacturing efficiency.

Operating expenses climbed 18% year over year to $26.4 million. Operating margin rose to 14.5% from 11.1% a year ago as higher operating costs were more than masked by a healthy increase in the top line.

The company’s balance sheet remains healthy with cash increasing more than six-fold year over year to $23.6 million at the end of the quarter. Long-term debt declined 21% year over year to $54.1 million. American Vanguard said that it has adequate liquidity to support capital spending and product acquisitions in the forthcoming quarters.

Moving ahead, American Vanguard feels that its results will be supported by the successful roll out of its herbicide co-marketing program with Monsanto (MON - Analyst Report). The company also noted that its crop protection products will aid to sales growth and profitability.

American Vanguard makes specialty chemical products for agricultural and commercial applications. The company develops and markets an array of chemicals, including insecticides, fungicides and herbicides, for crops, human and animal health protection. American Vanguard has the largest assortment of corn soil insecticides coupled with the most advanced dispensing equipment.

American Vanguard is leveraging the growing demand for soil insecticides as the U.S. corn growers contend with pest problems. Earnings momentum for the company looks to continue thanks to the favorable industry trends.

American Vanguard currently retains a Zacks #1 Rank, which translates into a short-term Strong Buy rating.

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