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Air Products & Chemicals Inc. (APD - Analyst Report) announced that it has hiked its quarterly dividend by 11% to 71 cents per share from 64 cents. The revised dividend is payable on May 13, 2013, to shareholders of record at the close of business on Apr 1, 2013.

In Jan 2013, Air Products logged first-quarter fiscal 2013 (ended Dec 31, 2012) earnings from continued operations of $1.30 a share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny. Consolidated net income from continuing operation increased 22.6% year over year to $276.9 million.

Air Products’ revenues rose 10.4% year over year to $2,562.4 million in the first quarter, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2,471 million. Sales were aided by higher volumes in the Tonnage Gases, Equipment and Energy divisions and acquisitions.

Air Products anticipates earnings for fiscal 2013 to be in the range of $5.70 to $5.90 per share, up from its previous guidance of $5.65 and $5.85 per share. For second-quarter 2013, earnings are expected in the band of $1.34 to $1.39 per share.

Air Products’ healthy project backlog strongly positions it to achieve its long-term growth target. Given its leading position in the gases business, the company is well positioned to capitalize on the cyclical recovery in its core industrial end markets.

New business wins in the Merchant Gases segment should drive results in the near term. The acquisition of a 67% stake in Chilean industrial gas company, Indura, is expected to present substantial growth opportunity for Air Products, placing it as Latin America’s second largest industrial gas producer. However, Air Products remains exposed to raw material inflation.
Air Products currently holds a short-term Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Other companies in the chemical industry having favorable Zacks Rank are Akzo Nobel NV (AKZOY), Axiall Corporation (AXLL - Snapshot Report) and LyondellBasel Industries NV (LYB - Snapshot Report). All of them hold a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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