Westlake Co. (NYSE:WLK) Sees Significant Short-Term Interest Growth

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Westlake Co. (NYSE: WLK – Get a rating) recorded a significant increase in short interest in the month of July. As of July 31, there was short interest totaling 2,090,000 shares, an increase of 17.4% from the July 15 total of 1,780,000 shares. Based on an average daily trading volume of 862,500 shares, the day-to-cover ratio is currently 2.4 days. Approximately 5.9% of the company’s shares are sold short.

Analysts set new price targets

Several brokerages have weighed in on WLK. UBS Group lowered its price target on Westlake shares from $117.00 to $92.00 and set a “sell” rating for the company in a Wednesday, July 13 research note. Scotiabank reiterated an “industry performance” rating on Westlake shares in a Tuesday, Aug. 2 research note. BMO Capital Markets raised its price target on Westlake shares from $140.00 to $153.00 in a Wednesday, May 4 research note. JPMorgan Chase & Co. downgraded Westlake shares from an ‘overweight’ rating to a ‘neutral’ rating and raised its price target for the stock from $134.00 to $135.00 in a research note Friday, June 3. Finally, Barclays lowered its price target on Westlake shares from $120.00 to $112.00 and set an “equal weight” rating for the company in a Monday, August 8 research note. One research analyst rated the stock with a sell rating, seven gave the company’s stock a hold rating and five gave the company’s stock a buy rating. According to MarketBeat.com, Westlake has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $129.75.

Performance of Westlake shares

Shares of Westlake were up $1.04 during Monday’s trading, hitting $104.70. 783,813 shares of the company were traded, against an average volume of 764,930. The company has a debt ratio of 0.49, a quick ratio of 1.59 and a current ratio of 2.39. The company has a 50-day simple moving average of $100.60 and a 200-day simple moving average of $113.16. Westlake has a 52-week low of $79.88 and a 52-week high of $141.19. The stock has a market capitalization of $13.44 billion, a price/earnings ratio of 4.73, a PEG ratio of 2.39 and a beta of 1.23.

Westlake Dividend Announcement

The company also recently announced a dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, September 6. Investors of record on Monday, August 22 will receive a dividend of $0.357 per share. The ex-dividend date is Friday, August 19. Westlake’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 5.38%.

Insider activity at Westlake

In related news, CEO Albert Chao sold 37,876 Westlake shares in a trade that took place on Thursday, May 19. The shares were sold at an average price of $130.38, for a total transaction of $4,938,272.88. As a result of the transaction, the CEO now directly owns 472,983 shares of the company, valued at $61,667,523.54. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, accessible via this link. In other Westlake news, COO Roger L. Kearns sold 8,388 shares of the company in a trade that took place on Tuesday, May 17. The shares were sold at an average price of $136.24, for a total value of $1,142,781.12. Following the completion of the sale, the COO now directly owns 26,389 shares of the company, valued at $3,595,237.36. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available via this hyperlink. Also, CEO Albert Chao sold 37,876 shares of the company in a transaction that took place on Thursday, May 19. The shares were sold at an average price of $130.38, for a total transaction of $4,938,272.88. Following the completion of the sale, the CEO now owns 472,983 shares of the company, valued at $61,667,523.54. Disclosure of this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 60,691 shares of the company valued at $7,948,918 over the past ninety days. 73.80% of the shares are held by insiders of the company.

Institutional entries and exits

Several institutional investors have recently changed their positions in the company. Worth Asset Management LLC bought a new position in Westlake in the first quarter worth $28,000. Allworth Financial LP bought a new position in Westlake in the first quarter worth $27,000. Larson Financial Group LLC bought a new position in Westlake in the second quarter worth $27,000. Steward Partners Investment Advisory LLC bought a new position in Westlake in the first quarter worth $36,000. Finally, Signaturefd LLC increased its stake in Westlake by 113.4% in the first quarter. Signaturefd LLC now owns 303 shares of the specialty chemicals company valued at $37,000 after buying an additional 161 shares last quarter.

About West Lake

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Westlake Corporation manufactures and supplies petrochemicals, polymers and construction products worldwide. It operates through two segments, Performance and Essential Materials; and housing and infrastructure products. The Performance and Essential Materials segment manufactures and markets polyethylene, styrene monomer, ethylene co-products, PVC, VCM, ethylene dichloride, chlor-alkali and chlorinated derivatives.

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