Celanese Corporation (CE - Free Report) logged earnings from continuing operations of 35 cents per share in fourth-quarter 2019, down from 73 cents in the year-ago quarter.
Barring one-time items, adjusted earnings were $1.99 a share, down from $2.38 in the year-ago quarter. It also lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.09.
Revenues of $1,432 million fell 15.2% year over year and missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,501.8 million. The chemical maker witnessed demand weakness during the reported quarter.
Celanese Corporation Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise
Net sales in the Engineered Materials unit were $539 million in the quarter, down 13.3% year over year. Sales were hurt by lower volumes, prices and unfavorable currency impact. Volumes were impacted due to high seasonality in the Western Hemisphere, soft demand for products used in the manufacturing of capital goods and slower-than-expected ramp up, following the resolution of the autoworkers’ strike of General Motors (GM - Free Report) .
The Acetyl Chain segment posted net sales of $771 million, down 17.7% year over year. Sales were mainly affected by normal winter seasonality as well as the impact of the outage at the Clear Lake facility in Texas.
Net sales in the Acetate Tow segment were $148 million, down 8.1% year over year. Prices were stable year over year in the quarter.
Notably, during the reported quarter, Acetate Tow finalized the shutdown of its production facility at Ocotlan, Mexico, contributing additional savings to aid stable earnings performance in 2020.
For 2019, revenues declined 12% year over year to $6,297 million. Adjusted earnings declined 13.4% year over year to $9.53 per share for 2019.
Celanese ended 2019 with cash and cash equivalents of $463 million, up 5.5% year over year. Long-term debt was up 14.8% year over year to $3,409 million.
Celanese generated operating cash flow of $326 million and free cash flow of $179 million in the quarter. Capital expenditure was $144 million for the quarter. Moreover, the company completed $225 million in share repurchases during the reported quarter, with $1.2 billion remaining under the current share repurchase authorization as of the end of the year.
Celanese does not expect any meaningful improvement in demand conditions on a year-over-year basis in 2020. Moreover, the company expects to reach 2020 adjusted earnings target of $11 per share, driven by factors within its control.
Celanese’s shares have gained 15% in the past year, outperforming its industry’s 8.8% growth.
Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider
The company currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).
Some better-ranked stocks in the basic materials space are Daqo New Energy Corp. (DQ - Free Report) , and Royal Gold, Inc. (RGLD - Free Report) .
Daqo New Energy has a projected earnings growth rate of 326.3% for 2020. The company’s shares have rallied 30.5% in a year. It sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Royal Gold has an estimated earnings growth rate of 83.5% for fiscal 2020. It currently flaunts a Zacks Rank #1. Its shares have rallied 30.3% in a year.
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