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What: Shares of LSB Industries (NYSE:LXU) were looking stronger today, gaining as much as 12% after reporting second-quarter earnings.
So what: Sales at the chemical maker actually fell 3.5%, to $202.2 million, in the quarter, but that still beat expectations. Earnings per share of $0.31, meanwhile, missed estimates by $0.01. CEO Jack Golsen said the company was on the right track, pointing out that necessary repairs have been made to the Cherokee and Pryor chemical facilities, which dented profitability in the first half of the year. He also said that should lead to an improvement in LSB's chemical business in the second half of the year. Considering per-share profits dropped from $1.11, LSB was clearly not operating at full capacity last quarter.
Now what: Today's jump in the share price seems to be mostly a consequence of management getting its ducks in a row for the coming quarter. The company did not provide guidance for the rest of the year, but if it can bring its gross margin back in line with last year's, its former level of profitability should quickly return. LSB's ability to get its chemical business up to speed, and bring its ammonia plant back on line, should guide its profits in the second half of the year.
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