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Specialty chemicals company Huntsman Corporation (HUN - Snapshot Report) has invested $135 million at a couple of its methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) plants. The investments has been made for boosting capacity at the Utah-based company’s Geismar, La., facility and upgrading downstream specialties production capability at its Rotterdam site in the Netherlands.

Huntsman’s advanced process technology will be utilized to enhance capacity at the Geismar site by 50 kilotons (ktes) to 500 ktes. This will allow the company to leverage the significant advantages of the site which includes access to U.S. shale gas, strong logistics base and excellent integration. The new capacity, which is expected come on line in 2014, will reinforce Huntsman's place as the leading MDI producer in the Americas.

At the Rotterdam site, upgrade of downstream specialties manufacturing capability will allow Huntsman to produce a comprehensive range of differentiated polyurethane products for automotive, adhesives, coatings and other applications. The unit is expected to be operational by the end of Mar 2013.
Huntsman, which has annual sales of more than $11 billion, makes and markets differentiated chemicals. Its makes products for an array of industries including chemicals, plastics, automotive, aviation, textiles, paints and coatings, construction, technology, agriculture, health care, appliances and packaging. In addition to the Geismar and Rotterdam sites, Huntsman operates a third MDI facility in Caojing, Shanghai.

Huntsman, in Feb 2013, announced its fourth-quarter 2012 results. Its adjusted earnings of 24 cents a share matched the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Revenues edged down 0.5% year over year to $2,619 million in the fourth quarter, but surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2,492 million. Higher sales across Huntsman’s polyurethanes and textile effects businesses were masked by declines across performance products, advanced materials and pigments franchises.

Huntsman currently carries a short-term (1 to 3 months) Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Other companies in the chemical industry with favorable Zacks Rank are Akzo Nobel NV (AKZOY), Axiall Corporation (AXLL - Snapshot Report) and LyondellBasell Industries NV (LYB - Analyst Report). All three retain a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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