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Goldman analyst upgrades Albemarle to 'Buy'

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Albemarle Corp. rose Tuesday after a Goldman Sachs analyst raised his rating on the specialty chemical maker on expectations that an improving economy will drive more demand for its products.

THE OPINION: Goldman Sachs analyst Robert Koort raised his rating to "Buy" from "Neutral" and his 12-month price target to $67 per share from $62 per share.

He lowered his 2012 earnings per share estimate to $4.52 from $4.53 and the 2013 estimate to $4.95 from $5.13. Analysts surveyed by FactSet, on average, predicted 2012 earnings of $4.52 per share and 2013 earnings of $5.01 per share.

The Baton Rouge, La., company has been hurt by lower demand in electronics, which affected its polymer solutions business. It also was pressured by a drop in rare earth metal prices.

Koort told clients in a research note that he expected rare earth metals prices to be less of an issue for Albemarle in the months ahead. The fine chemistry business should see more demand from drilling activity in the Gulf of Mexico. The forecast for the polymer solutions business was for flat volumes, he said.

THE STOCK: Shares of Albemarle rose 54 cents to end at $55.65. They are up 8 percent so far in 2012.

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