Airgas (NYSE: ARG) and Westlake Chemical Corporation (NYSE:WLK) are both basic materials companies, but which is the superior stock? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their analyst recommendations, earnings, dividends, institutional ownership, valuation, risk and profitabiliy.

Institutional & Insider Ownership

30.2% of Westlake Chemical Corporation shares are owned by institutional investors. 71.7% of Westlake Chemical Corporation shares are owned by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, hedge funds and large money managers believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Profitability

This table compares Airgas and Westlake Chemical Corporation’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Airgas 5.98% 15.44% 5.04%
Westlake Chemical Corporation 6.85% 14.09% 5.68%

Dividends

Westlake Chemical Corporation pays an annual dividend of $0.76 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.1%. Airgas does not pay a dividend. Westlake Chemical Corporation pays out 23.9% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Airgas has raised its dividend for 14 consecutive years and Westlake Chemical Corporation has raised its dividend for 13 consecutive years.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a breakdown of recent recommendations and price targets for Airgas and Westlake Chemical Corporation, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Airgas 0 0 0 0 N/A
Westlake Chemical Corporation 0 4 6 0 2.60

Westlake Chemical Corporation has a consensus target price of $63.25, indicating a potential downside of 9.57%. Given Westlake Chemical Corporation’s higher probable upside, analysts clearly believe Westlake Chemical Corporation is more favorable than Airgas.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Airgas and Westlake Chemical Corporation’s top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Airgas N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Westlake Chemical Corporation $6.04 billion 1.49 $1.16 billion $3.18 21.99

Westlake Chemical Corporation has higher revenue and earnings than Airgas.

Summary

Westlake Chemical Corporation beats Airgas on 8 of the 11 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Airgas

Airgas, Inc. is a supplier of industrial, medical and specialty gases, and hard goods, such as welding equipment and related products. The Company is also a producer of atmospheric gases, carbon dioxide, dry ice and nitrous oxide and a supplier of safety products, refrigerants, ammonia products and process chemicals. It operates through two segments: Distribution and All Other Operations. The Distribution segment offers a portfolio of related gas and hard goods products and services to the end customers. The All Other Operations segment consists of five business units which manufacture or distribute carbon dioxide, dry ice, nitrous oxide, ammonia and refrigerant gases. It also offers supply chain management services and solutions, and product and process technical support across many customer segments. It markets its products and services through multiple sales channels, including branch-based sales representatives, retail stores and strategic customer account programs, among others.

About Westlake Chemical Corporation

Westlake Chemical Corporation is a global manufacturer and marketer of basic chemicals, vinyls, polymers and building products. The Company’s products include a range of chemicals, which are fundamental to various consumer and industrial markets, including flexible and rigid packaging, automotive products, coatings, water treatment, refrigerants, residential and commercial construction, as well as other durable and non-durable goods. Its segments include Olefins and Vinyls. It manufactures ethylene (through Westlake Chemical OpCo LP (OpCo)), polyethylene, styrene and associated co-products at its manufacturing facility in Lake Charles and polyethylene at its Longview facility. The Company’s products in its Vinyls segment include polyvinyl chloride (PVC), vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), ethylene dichloride (EDC), chlor-alkali (chlorine and caustic soda) and chlorinated derivative products and, through OpCo, ethylene. It also manufactures and sells building products fabricated from PVC.

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