Markets & Finance

Merrill Downgrades PolyOne to 'Sell'

Merrill Lynch downgraded PolyOne (POL) to sell from neutral.

Analyst Karen Lane Gilsenan says the lion's share of the shortfall seems related to slower than expected demand in the North American Plastic compounds and Colors group, a significant margin squeeze, weakened PVC resin volumes, and softened caustic soda pricing. She says flat fourth quarter revenues against soft comparison sales are likely points to market share losses.

Gilsenan says PolyOne is halting dividends, slashing its 2003 capital spending forecast, and pursuing debt reduction -- even though the aggressive cost-cutting initiatives of the last several years should be providing ample cost savings. She cut her 21 cents 2002 earnings per share estimate to breakeven.

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