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TSC Ratings' Updates: Hartford

The following ratings changes were generated on Tuesday, Dec. 2.

We rate Air Products & Chemicals (APD - Get Report) a hold. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed -- some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks.

The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself, deteriorating net income and poor profit margins.

Air Products' revenue growth trails the industry average of 25.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenue slightly increased by 4.3%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share. Air Products' debt-to-equity ratio of 0.79 is somewhat low overall, but it is high when compared to the industry average, implying that the management of the debt levels should be evaluated further. Regardless of the somewhat mixed results with the debt-to-equity ratio, the company's quick ratio of 0.80 is weak.

Air Products' earnings per share declined by 6.7% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has reported a trend of declining earnings per share over the past year. However, the consensus estimate suggests that this trend should reverse in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, Air Products reported lower earnings of $3.80 vs. $4.55 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings to $5.10.

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