Let's pretend you could go back in time to Jan. 1, and you had a chance to buy shares in a publicly traded plastics company that you thought might do well during the COVID pandemic. Which one would you choose?
Arkema SA might sound like a good bet. After all, the Colombes, France-based company is a big maker of acrylic resin and sheet, which is finding lots of new applications in shielding used to aid in social distancing. Acrylic dividers are literally popping up everywhere.
But Arkema shares are down about 17 percent from where they started the year. Not the overwhelming success you might have expected. How come? In a recent earnings call, an analyst asked what's going on with acrylic demand.
Chairman and CEO Thierry Le Hénaff explained that the company's acrylic sheet plants in France and the United States are busy, "but at the end of the day, in terms of impact on profitability, it's nice to have, but it's far from being sufficient to offset for the automotive group," which suffered from the global auto shutdown.
In fact, Arkema officials announced April 2 that they want out of acrylic resin and sheet and are reviewing options for the business. This sounds like an interesting stand-alone opportunity to me.