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A bear market for most materials company stocks

Investors in publicly held plastics materials firms haven’t had much to smile about in 2022, with per-share stock prices at many firms down even more than the overall stock market.

Those investors likely are glad there are fewer than three months left on the 2022 calendar. As of late trading Oct. 6, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 17 percent since Jan. 1, with the broader S&P 500 down almost 20 percent.

Some materials firms would gladly take those results. Per-share prices at Avient Corp. and Celanese Corp. are down 41-46 percent, with Eastman Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. weathering drops of 34-39 percent.

Four firms — Chemours Co., Dow Inc., Huntsman Corp. and AdvanSix Inc. — have seen per-share price drops of 22-28 percent. The worst decline has been seen by Trinseo, whose per-share price has lost two-thirds of its value so far in 2022, falling 67 percent.

In a recent article, stock website GuruFocus said that Trinseo’s sharp price drop means that the stock is now undervalued. “Trinseo’s very low valuations reflect investors’ belief that commodity price reversals …will cause major earnings revisions downward,” the site said. “However…low forward price-earnings ratios could provide stability and future upside potential.”

Eastman of Kingsport, Tenn., and Avon Lake, Ohio-based PolyOne each have warned investors of lower earnings expectations for the third quarter, which haven’t been announced yet. Officials said that Eastman has been affected by lower demand, logistics challenges and operational issues.

Avient officials said that their firm has been impacted by lower demand and the impact of recent deals. In the last year, Avient bought the Protective Materials business of DSM for almost $1.5 billion and sold its resin distribution unit for $950 million to private equity firm HIG Capital.

The only firms that have fared well price-wise in 2022 are Hexcel Corp., whose per-share stock price is flat, and Cabot Corp., which has defied market trends and seen its price increase by 11.5 percent.

Stocks website Zacks said that Cabot is benefiting from a recovery in demand — especially for battery materials — and from its acquisition of a carbon black plant in China from Tokai Carbon Group.

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