FAIRLAWN, Ohio, July 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- OMNOVA Solutions (NYSE: OMN) announced an investment to repurpose – or redirect – excess styrene butadiene (SB) latex capacity at its plant in Mogadore, Ohio to the production of styrene acrylic and other specialty emulsion polymer chemistries. The project will allow OMNOVA to optimize its existing assets and provide significantly greater flexibility to respond to the Company's changing business mix with a wide range of polymers in its Mogadore facility. At the same time, it is expected to improve SB industry capacity utilization. Following the transition, OMNOVA expects to save approximately $4 million per year in lower operating costs while significantly enhancing its capabilities to serve customers. As part of the 20-month project, production of styrene acrylics and other latices at OMNOVA's Akron, Ohio site will be transitioned to upgraded, more efficient polymerization assets at the nearby Mogadore plant. The Akron plant will remain a finishing facility, dedicated to dry polymer manufacturing and packaging to serve growing customer demand around the world. Once the transition is complete, the Mogadore plant – with capabilities in styrene butadiene, styrene butadiene acrylonitrile, bio-polymers, hollow plastic pigments, acrylics, styrene acrylics, in-mold coatings and fluorosurfactants – will have the most diverse range of capabilities within OMNOVA's Performance Chemicals business, if not all of the North American specialty polymer industry. At the same time, OMNOVA's Akron plant will continue as a leading producer of dry polymers for several high growth markets, including coatings and oil and gas drilling. "This action will create efficiencies and quality improvements that will make OMNOVA more competitive," said Jim Hohman, President of OMNOVA's Performance Chemicals segment. "It builds on investments the Company has been making to repurpose styrene butadiene assets and further modernize its manufacturing capabilities to meet changing customer needs. Recently, we completed the conversion of some SB capacity to the production of hollow plastic pigments as well as bio-polymers. All these actions combined will bring OMNOVA's emulsion capacity utilization back near historical levels by taking out approximately 120 million pounds of SB industry capacity. "Styrene butadiene latex will continue to be an important part of our portfolio, but will be complemented by newer assets in Mogadore to meet the increasing demand for OMNOVA's styrene acrylic products and other chemistries," Hohman added. As part of the repurposing effort, OMNOVA will upgrade existing polymerization vessels and add new supporting equipment and storage at its Mogadore site. Production of styrene acrylics and other technologies will benefit from OMNOVA's highly advanced process control system in Mogadore, which was installed in 2009 at an investment of approximately $2 million. The Mogadore site also has the industry's newest SB production assets in North America. Likewise, investments at OMNOVA's Akron plant of approximately $4 million over the past four years have enhanced the Company's leading capabilities in drying and robotic packaging systems. The production transition will result in a modest workforce reduction which the Company anticipates will be addressed primarily through normal attrition over the 20-month project.
Jefferies analysts note that recent construction spending data indicates a cycle rotation away from construction-exposed names and toward industrial- and durable goods-levered firms could be playing out.