RPM announced a new strategic academic and vocational partnership between RPM and Cleveland State University, or CSU. The partnership will provide graduate-level education at discounted rates for three current environmental graduate programs: Master of Arts in Environmental Studies, Master of Science in Environmental Engineering, and Master of Science in Environmental Science. The program will launch with the Fall academic semester. The partnership provides a sponsored path of professional development in graduate level environmental coursework for existing RPM EH&S professionals, as well as other operational and technical professionals looking to enhance their knowledge and professional education in the same fields. RPM employees will also be able to take this coursework for continuing education as part of their professional development plan.
Piper Sandler analyst Charles Neivert raised the firm's price target on Westlake to $130 from $110 and keeps a Neutral rating on the shares after updating the firm's model to incorporate data from Q4 earnings, 2023 guidance, revisions to the firm's outlook for chemical industry fundamentals and initial estimates for 2024.
RBC Capital analyst Arun Viswanathan downgraded Westlake to Sector Perform from Outperform with a price target of $128, up from $125. The analyst cites the company's Q4 earnings miss and continued weak demand, particularly in housing and construction, behind the downgrade. While caustic has been strong, higher chlorine rates could lead to summer caustic price declines, the analyst tells investors in a research note. RBC adds that it believes this could offset some of Westlake's cyclical upside and sees only 15%-20% uplift in the company's EBITDA from Q1 trough levels to Q3.
RBC Capital analyst Arun Viswanathan lowered the firm's price target on Huntsman to $30 from $33 and keeps a Sector Perform rating on the shares. The analyst cites the company's Q4 earnings miss and below-consensus Q1 guidance, also noting that demand "remains weak". The firm adds however that it could turn more constructive should fundamentals and the Chinese economy improve in the second half of the year.
KeyBanc raised the firm's price target on Westlake to $103 from $95 on the back of stronger earnings than initially forecast, while keeping an Overweight rating on the shares. The firm believes the shares' underperformance after the Q4 report comes as a result of management's tone suggesting only modest quarter-over-quarter improvement in Q1. KeyBanc senses investors were hopeful that the end of destocking was in sight and there would be a more noticeable pickup in PE and PVC markets.
Deutsche Bank analyst David Begleiter raised the firm's price target on Westlake to $120 from $105 and keeps a Hold rating on the shares post the Q4 results. The analyst says the share price largely reflects the company's improving fundamentals.
Deutsche Bank lowered the firm's price target on Huntsman to $31 from $33 and keeps a Hold rating on the shares post the Q4 results. The company's Q1 EBITDA guidance was 42% below consensus at the midpoint and management expects 2023 EBITDA to be lower than 2022 due to a challenging macro environment, the analyst tells investors in a research note.
Wells Fargo analyst Michael Sison raised the firm's price target on Westlake to $130 from $125 and keeps an Overweight rating on the shares. The firm senses Q4 was a trough for earnings, with demand improving for PVC/PE and operating rates moving above 80%, offsetting a weaker backdrop for construction. Wells sees chlor alkali and PE margins holding well above past lows.