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Specialty materials company Celanese Corporation (CE - Analyst Report) announced that it will raise prices for acrylic emulsions sold in the Americas. Celanese will increase pure acrylic and styrene acrylic emulsions prices by up to 8 cents per wet pound and vinyl acrylic emulsions by up to 3 cents per wet pound. The revision is effective from Feb 18, 2013, or as contracts permit.

This price hike is expected to impact all applications including adhesives, paint and coatings, building and construction, nonwovens, glass fiber, carpet, paper and textiles.

Celanese’s fourth-quarter 2012 results, released on Jan 28, were mixed as adjusted earnings exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate while sales missed the same. The company’s adjusted earnings (excluding one-time items) of 67 cents per share exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 63 cents and the year-ago earnings of 58 cents per share.

Earnings (as reported) from continuing operation were 60 cents a share in the quarter compared with 61 cents recorded a year ago. The company’s cost reduction measures aided earnings as well as operating margin expansion in the quarter.

Sales for the quarter were $1,501 million, down 7% year over year, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,534 million. The decline was due to lower volumes in the company’s acetyl intermediates segment and the Acetate footprint rationalization in its Consumer Specialties segment. Lower pricing also hurt sales.

Celanese expects the challenging economic conditions to persist in 2013. For 2013, it expects earnings growth on the back of company-specific initiatives and to be consistent with its long-term growth objective of 12% to 14%. The company remains focused on enhancing the competitiveness of its products through technological innovations.

Celanese retains a short-term (1 to 3 months) Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other companies in the chemical industry worth considering are Arkema S.A. (ARKAY), BASF SE (BASFY) and Air Products & Chemicals Inc. (APD - Analyst Report). While Arkema and BASF both carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Air Products holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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