Methanex Corp.
(MEOH) recently finalized a new $200 million revolving credit facility with a syndicate of banks. The new facility, which expires in May 2012, replaces the company’s existing revolving facility of $250 million, set to expire in mid-2010. While Methanex stated that the new credit facility is more flexible, it did not disclose the financial terms.

The Vancouver-based company had $278 million of cash in hand at the end of the second quarter. With the new credit agreement and no near-term refinancing requirements, Methanex has positioned itself well to meet its financial commitments and continue investing in projects that stimulate growth.

Methanex is the world’s largest supplier of methanol to major international markets in North America, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Latin America, with about a 15% market share.

The chemical Methanol is a blend of 68% natural gas and 32% coal. Natural gas costs have been rising resulting in higher cost of producing methanol. In 2008, the company’s cash costs of producing methanol increased by $73 million due to higher natural gas costs.

Approximately 80% of all methanol output is used for production of formaldehyde, acetic acid and a variety of other chemicals, demand for which is influenced by the levels of global economic activity. These chemical derivatives are used in the manufacture of a wide range of products including plywood, particleboard, foams, resins and plastics.

The remainder of methanol demand largely stems from the energy sector for the production of methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) – a gasoline component – and as a direct fuel for motor vehicles. Use of methanol in manufacturing bio-diesel and dimethyl ether (DME) in power generation and other applications is also on the rise.

Methanex has embarked on a number of growth projects including the one on alternative natural gas sources in Chile. However, lower demand and pricing, as well as an increase in worldwide inventories of methanol due to the global economic crisis are negatively affecting the company. We maintain our neutral recommendation on the stock.

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