Cabot Corporation (CBT - Free Report) swung to a profit of $23 million or 39 cents per share in the second quarter of fiscal 2019 (ended Mar 31, 2019) from a loss of $173 million or $2.80 in the year-ago quarter.
Barring one-time items, adjusted earnings per share were 99 cents, down from $1.04 in the year-ago quarter. However, the results surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 98 cents.
Net sales rose around 3% year over year to $844 million in the quarter. It trailed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $906 million.
The company faced a challenging environment in the quarter. It saw pricing weakness in China, sustained weakness in automotive demand and higher raw material costs. These were, in part, offset by improved results across its Purification Solutions and Specialty Fluids units.
Reinforcement Materials sales fell around 2% year over year to $445 million in the fiscal second quarter. EBIT in the segment was $61 million, down around 23% year over year. The results were hurt by reduced margins due to lower prices in China and higher raw material costs, partly offset by the favorable impact of the company’s 2019 tire customer agreements.
Sales in the Performance Chemicals unit declined around 5% year over year to $254 million in the quarter. EBIT tumbled 33% year over year to $38 million, due to lower volumes and a less favorable sales mix.
Sales in the Purification Solutions went up 9% year over year to $72 million in the quarter, while the same in the Specialty Fluids segment rose four-folds on a year-over-year basis to $24 million. The Purification Solutions unit gained from higher volumes and prices in specialty applications. Performance in the Specialty Fluids segment gained from a higher level of project activity on year-over-year basis.
Cabot had cash and cash equivalents of $176 million at the end of the quarter, down around 2% year over year. The company’s long-term debt went up around 6% year over year to $672 million.
Cash flows from operating activities were $90 million in the reported quarter. Capital expenditures were $43 million.
The company also returned $70 million through share repurchases and dividends to its shareholders during the quarter.
Moving ahead, Cabot is seeing signs of improvement in the business environment, however at a slower pace than what it had originally expected. The company expects adjusted earnings in the range of $4.05-$4.30 per share for fiscal 2019, down from the previous projection of $4.20-$4.60. The company will remain focused on managing costs.
Cabot sees results in Reinforcement Materials and Performance Chemicals to improve sequentially in the fiscal third quarter driven by recovery in volume and margin. The company also expects the unfavorable impact from the timing of raw material flow-through not to repeat in the third quarter. Moreover, it envisions the improvement in Reinforcement Materials and Performance Chemicals to be mostly offset by the impact of the divestiture of the Specialty Fluids segment in the third quarter.
Shares of Cabot have lost 21.4% in the past year compared with the industry’s 25.4% decline.
Zacks Rank and Stocks to Consider
Cabot currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Better-ranked stocks in the basic materials space include Sandstorm Gold Ltd. (SAND - Free Report) , Flexible Solutions International Inc. (FSI - Free Report) and Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. (APD - Free Report) .
Sandstorm Gold has an expected earnings growth rate of 200% for the current year and carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). The company’s shares have gained around 12% over the past year. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Flexible Solutions has an expected earnings growth rate of 171.4% for the current year and carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Its shares have rallied roughly 106% in the past year.
Air Products has an expected earnings growth rate of 10.3% for the current fiscal year and carries a Zacks Rank #2. Its shares have shot up around 22% in the past year.
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