Shares of Celanese Corporation (CE - Free Report) have popped around 14% over the past three months. The company has also outperformed its industry’s growth of a paltry 0.9% to over the same time frame.
Celanese, a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock, has a market cap of roughly $15.2 billion. Average volume of shares traded in the last three months is around 974.7k. The company has expected long-term earnings per share growth rate of 8.9%.
Let’s take a look into the factors that are driving this chemical maker’s stock.
What’s Driving CE?
Forecast-topping first-quarter earnings performance on the back of productivity measures and higher product prices, strong outlook for 2018 and compelling business prospects have contributed to the run-up in Celanese’s shares. The company delivered a positive earnings surprise of 18.2% in the first quarter.
Celanese’s profits for first-quarter 2018 shot up roughly two-fold year over year as the company benefited from gains across its Engineered Materials (EM) and Acetyl Chain units in the quarter. Improving industry fundamentals and the strength of the company’s commercial models also supported the results.
Celanese, in April, raised its earnings guidance for 2018 based on strength across its Acetyl Chain and EM units. The company now envisions its adjusted earnings per share to grow in the 20-25% range year over year in 2018, up from its earlier view of 12-16% growth.
The company’s strategic measures including operational cost savings through productivity actions and price increase initiatives are likely to lend support to its earnings in 2018. Moreover, Celanese continues to enhance supply network flexibility and expand capacity.
Celanese also remains focused on growth through acquisitions. The company, in February, wrapped up its acquisition of Omni Plastics L.L.C. and its subsidiaries, including the distributor Resinal de Mexico. Omni Plastics specializes in custom compounding of various engineered thermoplastic materials, which is a material of choice in various markets including electrical and electronics, automotive, industrial and consumer goods.
The acquisition bolsters Celanese’s global asset base by adding compounding capacity in the Americas, which will allow the company to continue supporting a diverse and growing customer base.
The company also continues to generate strong cash flows and remains focused on returning value to its shareholders. Celanese’s board, in April, approved a 17% hike in its quarterly cash dividend to 54 cents per share from the prior payout of 46 cents. This translates into a dividend of $2.16 per share on an annualized basis, up from $1.84 per share. The move reflects the company’s strong cash generation and its confidence in the growth prospects of its businesses.
Other Stocks to Consider
Other top-ranked stocks worth considering in the basic materials space include Westlake Chemical Corporation (WLK - Free Report) , The Chemours Company (CC - Free Report) and FMC Corporation (FMC - Free Report) , each carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Westlake Chemical has an expected long-term earnings growth rate of 12.2%. Its shares have rallied roughly 73% over a year.
Chemours has an expected long-term earnings growth rate of 15.5%. The company’s shares have gained around 32% in a year.
FMC Corp has an expected long-term earnings growth rate of 14.3%. Its shares have moved up 15.8% in a year.
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