More Top Funds Add Shares In Air Products & Chemicals

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Air Products ( APD ) is well known for supplying various gases to industries, but it also boasts decades of experience in materials science and surface chemistry.

Expertise in specialty surfactants, specialty amines, epoxy curatives and other compounds has enabled the Lehigh Valley, Pa., company to serve a wider array of markets, including food, building products and personal care products.

Recently, though, Air Products is emphasizing its success in foreign markets. In the September-ended fiscal fourth quarter, Air Products noted contract wins in China as well as "major hydrogen wins" in India and Canada.

Q4 sales slipped 1%, the first drop in five quarters, due to lower volumes and a 2% impact caused by the company's decision to exit the polyurethane intermediates business.

Air Products' annual sales peaked at $10.41 billion in fiscal 2008, then fell 21% the next year as the economy crashed. But sales are climbing back, up 6% in fiscal 2013 to $10.18 billion. Wall Street sees 2014 sales up 4% to $10.55 billion.

Consensus annual profit estimates for Air Products have been lowered recently. Earnings are seen rising 6% in fiscal 2014 and up 10% in fiscal 2015. Air Products also boasts an exceptional 3-year earnings stability factor of 1 on a scale of zero (stable) to 99 (volatile).

Several A-rated mutual funds have added to their positions, including JPMorgan Equity Income Fund and ClearBridge Large Cap Value Fund. Also in the third quarter, 131 funds built new positions, including American Beacon Large Cap Value Fund.

In March, Air Products' board hiked the quarterly dividend by 11% to 71 cents a share. It marked the 31st consecutive year that the company increased its cash payout to common shareholders. The annual yield is 2.6%.

The stock has gained 28% since cracking through resistance at 90 in early May. Institutions have supported it during recent declines to the 50-day moving average.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Personal Finance , Investing Ideas

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