This $31 billion company never fails to impress. Biggie Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW ) has been all over the news recently, first for the rollout of the one-of-its-kind solar power shingle, and then for its big agreement with a Saudi oil company.
Things have been good for the chemicals industry in general, as was evident from the superb results most companies in the field came out with in their last quarters, including Dow. Does all of this good news make the company a must-buy now? I'd like to do a little more homework before taking a call on any stock. Take a cue from the following to make your decision on Dow.
Strong growth in all operating segments has been pushing up Dow's top line. What's more, the company has been doing extremely well in all geographic areas, led by robust demand from the emerging markets. Dow has also been hiking prices to tackle inflationary pressures. All these factors have helped the company's revenues grow at 11.4% in the past 12 months.
What has been impressive is the strong 32.9% growth in Dow's one-year bottom line, a major jump from a negative rate of 6.9% in the past half-decade. Growing top line along with tight control on expenses helped boost margins.
Dow's growth initiatives have also been impressive. From acquisitions to joint ventures, the company has been reaching out all over. The best part is Dow's keen eye on making the most from emerging markets, where revenues reached record highs recently.
Dow's investment in research and development remains strong. The latest feather it has added to its cap has been the introduction of solar roofing shingles in collaboration with homebuilder D.R. Horton (NYSE: DHI ) . With environmentally friendly products catching the eye of the world, it could mean tremendous opportunities for Dow.
Dow's recent bet on bioplastics is also a welcome move. But nothing can be bigger for Dow right now than the joint venture it has signed recently with a Saudi Arabian oil company. Aimed at building one of the world's largest chemical facilities, the venture will target markets such as China and Africa for the products that are expected to be churned out from the new facility in 2015. Great going indeed!
Easing a burden
In spite of heavy investments, Dow's total-debt-to-equity ratio, which stands at 80.2%, has been reducing gradually. In the first half of this year, Dow retired around $4 billion of debt, which will help reduce its interest burden by around $250 million annually, which is good news. Strong operating margins, interest coverage ratio of 3.1 times and cash balance of $2 billion provides enough comfort for Dow's debt levels.
Good performances and financial stability is fine. But is Dow's valuation cheap when stacked against some of its peers'? Let's take a look.
|DuPont (NYSE: DD )||17.1||10.3||3.46|
|Huntsman (NYSE: HUN )||9.1||5.7||1.11|
|Albemarle (NYSE: ALB )||13.0||9.9||2.52|
|Celanese (NYSE: CE )||12.4||8.3||4.40|
Source: S&P Capital IQ.
Dow looks cheap on an absolute basis, and when compared to its peers on a trailing P/E basis. That the company's earnings are expected to grow is also evident from a lower forward P/E, suggesting a good possible upside for the stock.
A price-to-book value on the lower end of the spectrum and a decent return on equity of 13.8% further add to the optimism. But what you'll love most about Dow is its awesome dividend yield of 3.6%.
The Foolish bottom line
Dow looks well poised to grow, and I definitely wouldn't mind placing a bet on an ever-growing company. What about you?
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