Moody's raises Westlake Chemical's credit rating to investment grade on improving profits, likelihood it will maintain large cash balance

NEW YORK , September 27, 2011 () – Moody's Investors Service raised Westlake Chemical Corp.'s credit rating to investment grade, partly because of its improving profits and the likelihood that it will be able to maintain a large cash balance.

The ratings agency lifted the company's senior unsecured rating to "Baa3" from a "junk"-level "Ba1." The change affects $750 million in debt.

While Westlake has some construction projects planned through 2014, Moody's still expects the company to have more than $500 million in cash on its balance sheet once the projects are done.

Last month Westlake, based in Houston, reported that its second-quarter net income surged 42 percent, mostly because of higher prices.

The Houston company's outlook is stable.

Shares of Westlake Chemical gained $2.06, or 5.5 percent, to $39.60 in afternoon trading. The stock is down 42 percent from a 52-week peak of $67.77 in April.

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