PolyOne update

Back at post #3836 I described a new full position, Polyone (POL) an manufacturer of specialty polymers.

Since then they announced quarterly results. Here’s my summary:

- Adjusted earnings up 36% to 49 cents
- Achieved 20th consecutive quarter of double-digit adjusted EPS growth
- Led by the Specialty Platform, all segments delivered year-over-year operating income gains driven by continued mix improvement and synergies from the Spartech acquisition

As previously announced, the Company exited certain unprofitable products associated with the Spartech acquisition and operations in Brazil. These actions, coupled with recent weakness in Europe, resulted in revenues of $0.96 million, down from $1.01 billion a yr ago.

Each of our strategic platforms delivered another outstanding quarter of both operating income and margin expansion. Despite softer macroeconomic conditions in Europe, we achieved record-setting third quarter results.

This marks our 20th consecutive quarter of strong double-digit adjusted earnings per share growth. Over this five year period, adjusted EPS has expanded at a 27% compounded growth rate.

By investing in innovation, we have developed a full suite of specialty offerings unmatched in the industry. Today, 43% of our specialty revenues now come from products introduced in the last five years.
We are not reluctant to replace existing business with new technology. Our commitment to this strategy is unwavering. Our mix of earnings has never been stronger or more sustainable, and this has translated into market-beating performance for our shareholders.

We had $71 million in free cash flow, and we ended with $264 million in cash. During the quarter we repurchased 1.5 million shares.

Outlook: While our first half 2014 performance included solid growth in Europe, we experienced declining demand from this region during the third quarter. We view European business conditions as a headwind for the remainder of the year and going into 2015. However, we have confidence that we will overcome the challenges in Europe, and we expect to deliver strong double-digit adjusted EPS growth in the fourth quarter and beyond.

For those who aren’t sure what specialty polymers are, here are some awards they just announced:

Replacing metal in LED lights earned POL recognition at the inaugural Polymers and Plastics Innovation Awards. PolyOne took first place in the Best Lightweighting Innovation category for helping a company replace metal in LED headlights for off-road vehicles, and was awarded second place in the Plastics and Electronics category for replacing metal in architectural LED lighting made by a Finnish lighting specialist.

In both cases, our experts helped innovative customers replace metal with specialty polymer formulations that can conduct heat, provide electrical insulation, or conduct electricity.

POL also received recognition in the Body Interior category at the Automotive Innovation Awards for collaborating with a sensor manufacturer. The two companies teamed up to develop an all-plastic temperature sensor in the 2015 Ford Edge to control heating and cooling of the vehicle’s interior. The new patent-pending sensor weighs 38% less than the legacy metal design and is easier to assemble.

Hope this is of help.



Saul, while the company sounds very interesting, I just have no understanding whatsoever of the chemical or plastics industry. For example, what is it that makes their products high-margin specialty products versus commodity products? Are they all patented, giving the company pricing power? Or do they start as specialty and quickly become commodity, forcing the company to constantly innovate to stay ahead? Are there always other companies nipping at their heels, jumping in to any niches once they’re proven to be profitable? Is the company primarily dealing with only a few customers for each particular product? Setting aside their present position, what is their long-term competitive advantage within the industry that is going to propel them ahead over the next 5-10 years?

I just wouldn’t feel comfortable owning this business until I understood a lot more about the industry and how it works. Do you feel like you’ve been able to learn enough just studying the company, or can you recommend other resources?


Neil, Those are good questions. As I understand it, they have changed their business over the past 5-6 years from a commodity business to a specialty, high margin business. This has involved closing down unprofitable or low margin lines and moving into high margin specialty products, such as those they won those awards for. They must have pricing power to keep their margins high, and undoubtedly their products are either patented or protected by long term contracts with the companies they develop them for. Finally, I don’t know many companies with 20 consecutive quarters of double digit earnings growth and 27% compounded earnings growth over five years.