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ExxonMobil's (XOM) Petrochemical JV Eyeing Initial Startup

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Exxon Mobil Corporation’s (XOM - Free Report) petrochemical joint venture (JV) with Saudi Basic Industries Corporation or SABIC in the U.S. Gulf Coast has commenced commissioning operations. The project is preparing for initial start-up in the fourth quarter, ahead of the earlier schedule.

The new complex near Corpus Christi, TX, incorporates an ethane cracker with 1.8 million metric tons per annum of capacity, which will feed one mono-ethylene glycol and two polyethylene units. The ethane cracker is expected to be the world’s second-largest unit. The mono-ethylene glycol unit will likely be the world's largest of its kind, with 1.1 million metric tons per annum of capacity. The linear low-density polyethylene facilities will have 650,000 metric tons per annum of capacity each.

The mono-ethylene glycol and two polyethylene units reached mechanical completion by July-end. The project is likely to generate $50 billion of economic benefits in the first six years of operation. It will produce the necessary chemicals utilized in medical, automotive and packaging products.

The joint venture project will catapult SABIC’s presence in the North American market and diversify its feedstock sources. SABIC, which is 70% owned by Saudi Aramco, expects the petrochemical project to boost its bottom line that swung to a net profit in the second quarter.

ExxonMobil will be the operator at the site. The petrochemical project is expected to generate massive profits for the company’s chemical unit that generated a profit of $1.9 billion in 2020. Due to the recovery in demand from the last year, the unit recorded a $2.3-billion profit in second-quarter 2021 alone, skyrocketing from earnings of $467 million in the year-ago quarter. As the demand is expected to surge in the coming years from both domestic and international markets, the petrochemical project will likely generate high margins for the company.

Price Performance

The stock has gained 30.3% in the year-to-date period compared with a 24.6% rise of the industry it belongs to. 

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Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Currently, ExxonMobil carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks from the energy space include Cheniere Energy, Inc. (LNG - Free Report) , Kinder Morgan, Inc. (KMI - Free Report) and Chevron Corporation (CVX - Free Report) , each having a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Cheniere Energy’s bottom line for 2021 is pegged at $2.98 per share, indicating a massive improvement from the year-ago loss of 34 cents.

Kinder Morgan’s bottom line for 2021 is expected to rise 47.7% year over year.

The consensus estimate for Chevron’s earnings for 2021 is pegged at $6.73 per share, indicating a major improvement from the year-ago loss of 20 cents.