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Moody's lifts Westlake Chemical rating

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 10:13am
The Associated Press

Moody's Investors Service raised Westlake Chemical Corp.'s credit rating to investment grade, partly because of its improving profits and the likelihood that it will be able to maintain a large cash balance.

The ratings agency lifted the company's senior unsecured rating to "Baa3" from a "junk"-level "Ba1." The change affects $750 million in debt.

While Westlake has some construction projects planned through 2014, Moody's still expects the company to have more than $500 million in cash on its balance sheet once the projects are done.

Last month Westlake, based in Houston, reported that its second-quarter net income surged 42 percent, mostly because of higher prices.

The Houston company's outlook is stable.

Shares of Westlake Chemical gained $2.06, or 5.5 percent, to $39.60 in afternoon trading. The stock is down 42 percent from a 52-week peak of $67.77 in April.

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