Westlake Earnings Set the Stage for Better Things to Come

petro chemical plant
petro chemical plant

Westlake Chemical Corp. (NYSE: WLK) reported first-quarter 2013 results before markets opened this morning. The maker of a variety of petrochemicals, polymers and building products posted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.84 on revenues of $864.65 million. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $1.31 on revenues of $1.03 billion. First-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $1.25 and $870.1 million in revenues.

The company's results were negatively affected by a 74-day shutdown of one of its plants for turnaround and expansion.

Sales rose 8% sequentially, even with the shutdown, largely due to higher prices for the company's products and lower costs for feedstock and energy, primarily natural gas. Here is what Westlake's CEO had to say:

We continue to benefit from a globally advantaged energy and feedstock position resulting from North American shale gas and oil production. Our integration strategy, which includes additional ethylene, chlor-alkali and PVC resin capacity, and our recently announced specialty pipe acquisition are expected to significantly improve the cost and market position of our Vinyls segment and meaningfully add to the earnings potential of our Company.

Assuming that costs remain "advantaged" and that home building picks up, Westlake could be in a very strong position going forward. The company offered no guidance in today's report, but the consensus estimates call for second-quarter EPS of $1.82 on revenues of $959.86 million.

Based on today's report, those numbers should get revised upwards. Over the past three months, the consensus EPS estimate for Westlake rose by $0.17, and even then it was $0.59 short.

Shares are inactive yet this morning, but the stock closed at $82.45 on Friday in a 52-week range of $48.13 to $98.27. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $84.75 before today's report.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Commodities & Metals, Earnings, Oil & Gas Tagged: WLK