Best Companies of the Chemicals IndustryWhile ModernGraham supports the bottom-up approach to investing, many investors do utilize the top-down method, whereby an industry is selected before the company itself. With that in mind, this article will take a brief look at the best companies of the chemicals industry, selecting the most promising investment opportunities within the industry, and giving a broad look into the industry as a whole.

Out of the more than 550 companies reviewed by ModernGraham, 11 were identified as being closely related to the chemicals industry. Of those, only two are suitable for the Defensive Investor, five are suitable for the Enterprising Investor, and the remaining four are considered speculative at this time. Excluding any extreme outliers, the average company was rated as being priced at 107.46% to its MG Value (estimated intrinsic value), with an average PEmg ratio of 17.65. The industry as a whole, therefore would appear to be fairly valued, particularly in comparison to the market (see Mr. Market’s Mental State).

The Elite

The following companies have been rated as undervalued and suitable for either the Defensive Investor or the Enterprising Investor:

LyondellBasell Industries (LYB)

LyondellBasell Industries qualifies for the Enterprising Investor but not the more conservative Defensive Investor. The Defensive Investor is concerned with the short history post bankruptcy, and the high PB ratio. The Enterprising Investor is only initially concerned with the level of debt relative to the net current assets. As a result, all Enterprising Investors following the ModernGraham approach based on Benjamin Graham’s methods should feel comfortable proceeding with further research into the company.

As for a valuation, the company appears to be undervalued after growing its EPSmg (normalized earnings) post bankruptcy to an estimated $7.50 for 2015. This level of demonstrated earnings growth outpaces the market’s implied estimate of 1.28% annual earnings growth over the next 7-10 years. As a result, the ModernGraham valuation model, based on Benjamin Graham’s formula, returns an estimate of intrinsic value above the price. (See the full valuation)

Eastman Chemical (EMN)

Eastman Chemical performs well in the ModernGraham model and is suitable for both Defensive Investors and Enterprising Investors. The Defensive Investor is concerned with the low current ratio, while the Enterprising Investor is similarly concerned with the level of debt relative to the net current assets. As a result, all value investors should feel very comfortable proceeding to the next part of the analysis, which is a determination of the company’s intrinsic value.

When it comes to valuation, it is critical to consider the company’s earnings history. In this case, the company has grown its EPSmg (normalized earnings) from $2.88 in 2011 to an estimated $5.86 for 2015. This is a strong level of growth and is well above the market’s implied estimate of only 2.39% annual earnings growth over the next 7-10 years.

Here, actual growth in EPSmg over the last several years has averaged nearly 21% annually, so the market is expecting a very significant drop in earnings growth. The ModernGraham valuation model reduces the historical growth to a more conservative figure, assuming that some slowdown will occur, but still estimates a growth figure much higher than the market’s implied rate. Therefore, the model returns an estimate of intrinsic value well above the current price, indicating the company is significantly undervalued at the present time. (See the full valuation)

Dow Chemical (DOW)

Dow Chemical is not suitable for Defensive Investors but it does pass the initial requirements of the Enterprising Investor. The Defensive Investor is concerned with the low current ratio, the insufficient earnings growth over the last ten years, and the high PB ratio, while the Enterprising Investor’s only concern is the level of debt relative to the net current assets. As a result, all Enterprising Investors should feel very comfortable proceeding to the next part of the analysis, which is a determination of the company’s intrinsic value.

When it comes to that valuation, it is critical to consider the company’s earnings history. In this case, it has grown its EPSmg (normalized earnings) from $1.49 in 2011 to an estimated $2.65 for 2015. This is a fairly strong level of demonstrated growth, and outpaces the market’s implied estimate for annual earnings growth of 5.61% over the next 7-10 years.

In recent years, the company’s actual growth in EPSmg has averaged considerably 15.59% annually, and while the ModernGraham valuation model reduces the actual growth to a more conservative figure when making an estimate, the model still returns an estimate of intrinsic value well above the current price, indicating that Dow Chemical is significantly undervalued at the present time. (See the full valuation)

FMC Corporation (FMC)

FMC Corporation is suitable for the Enterprising Investor but not for the Defensive Investor. The Defensive Investor is concerned by the low current ratio as well as the high PEmg and PB ratios, while the Enterprising Investor has no initial concerns. As a result, Enterprising Investors following the ModernGraham approach based on Benjamin Graham’s methods should feel very comfortable proceeding with further research and comparing the company to other opportunities.

From a valuation side of things, the company appears to be fairly valued after growing its EPSmg (normalized earnings) from $1.80 in 2011 to an estimated $2.66 for 2015. This level of demonstrated growth supports the market’s implied estimate of 3.32% earnings growth and leads the ModernGraham valuation model, based on Benjamin Graham’s formula, to return an estimate of intrinsic value above the price. (See the full valuation)

The Good

The following companies have been rated as fairly valued and suitable for either the Defensive Investor or the Enterprising Investor:

E I du Pont de Nemours & Company (DD)

E I du Pont de Nemours & Company qualifies for both the Defensive Investor and the Enterprising Investor. The Defensive Investor is only initially concerned with the high PB ratio. The Enterprising Investor has no initial concerns. As a result, all value investors following the ModernGraham approach based on Benjamin Graham’s methods should feel comfortable proceeding with the evaluation.

As for a valuation, the company appears to be fairly valued after growing its EPSmg (normalized earnings) from $2.99 in 2011 to an estimated $3.64 for 2015. This level of demonstrated earnings growth supports the market’s implied estimate of 3.16% annual earnings growth over the next 7-10 years. As a result, the ModernGraham valuation model, based on Benjamin Graham’s formula, returns an estimate of intrinsic value within a margin of safety relative to the price. (See the full valuation)

The Full List

To view the MG Value and PEmg information, you must be logged in as a premium member. Clicking on the company name will take you to the company’s latest valuation.

For the investor type, a “D” indicates the company is suitable for the Defensive Investor, an “E” indicates the company is suitable for the Enterprising Investor, and an “S” indicates the company is considered speculative at this time.

Ticker Name with Link Investor Type Latest Valuation Date MG Value Recent Price Price as a percent of Value PEmg Ratio Div. Yield
ALB Albemarle Corporation D 8/12/2015 $43.07 2.69%
APD