Friday June 08, 2012
by Jason Cimpl, contributing editor Top Stock Insights
While natural gas may be cheap to produce, it is costly to export. But technologies have emerged that make natural gas transportation more efficient. This technology shrinks natural gas by converting it to a liquid form.
The end product is called LNG, or liquefied natural gas. One of our top investments in the LNG market is Air Products (APD), which is involved in the liquefaction (turning gas to a liquid) process.
LNG has an energy density 2.4 times greater than compressed natural gas (previous form of transport). Also, natural gas that has been liquefied takes up to 600 times less volume than it does in the gaseous state.
The reduced volume and increased energy density achieved through LNG makes exporting more economical. The result has been a greater demand for natural gas across the globe.
Customers use Air Products technology in more than 100 LNG baseload trains (the technical term for the gas treatment process) and at several regional U.S. LNG plants.
The liquefaction process is not easy and Air Products helps build the systems at each stage of the process. While this segment is going to be a major growth driver, Air Products boasts revenue exposure to 25 industries across three continents.
Its vast industry exposure and diversified geographical market enhance sales stability. That diversity helped Air Products report increases to sales, margins and profitability for three consecutive years.
Annual sales increased 22% to $10.1 billion from $8.2 billion in 2009. Sequential revenues rose more than 10% in each of the past three years, too. Net income has also grown steadily and has nearly doubled to $1.2 billion since 2009.
Don't think management forgot about the shareholder while they were busy making Air Products a more efficient business. Management has a 30-year consecutive streak of raising the cash dividend. With the recent stock sell-off, the shares pay about a 3.2% yield.
The combination of financial stability and a high yield makes Air Products a great investment. I expect Air Products to hit $95 over the next 12 months.
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