Top Lithium Producer Albemarle Optimistic on Future Demand

- February 21st, 2019

The company reported an 18-percent increase in lithium sales to US$341.6 million during Q4, supported by higher prices and volume.

Top lithium producer Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) released its 2018 earning results on Wednesday (February 20), posting better-than-expected quarterly profits and forecasting continued growth in 2019.

The company reported an 18-percent increase in lithium sales to US$341.6 million during the fourth quarter, supported by higher prices and volume.

“Our 2018 performance and execution on our lithium growth projects have positioned Albemarle for another year of growth in 2019,” the company said in a statement.

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This year, Albemarle expects net sales to range between US$3.65 billion and US$3.85 billion, representing growth of around 8 to 14 percent.

“Our growth will be driven by increased volume in our core lithium business,” the company said. “We are not forecasting any significant macroeconomic headwinds and have not seen any decline in our customer demand forecasts,” the company added.

Most analysts agree with this bullish demand forecast for lithium, a key element in batteries used to power electric cars.

“Albemarle’s latest lithium demand number is just above 1.2 million tonnes by 2025. A figure that supply will never be able to meet in time,” Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Managing Director Simon Moores said after the news.

“The energy storage revolution is coming but will be delayed,” he added.

The London-firm, which provides price assessments of raw materials including lithium, cobalt and graphite, expects lithium demand to increase by over eight times by 2028 to 1,570,020 million tonnes if full battery megafactory capacity is achieved.

Albemarle’s fourth quarter sales reached US$921.7 million, with earnings of US$129.6 million and adjusted earnings before income, tax, depreciation and amortization of US$264.3 million.

The company holds lithium assets in the Salar de Atacama in Chile, Clayton Valley near Silver Peak in USA and Greenbushes in Australia.

Last year, the company sign a deal to invest US$1.15 billion in a joint venture with Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN), which will own and operate the Wodgina hard-rock lithium mine in Western Australia, with plans to develop a plant producing lithium hydroxide for batteries.

On Thursday (February 21), shares of Albemarle were up more than 6 percent after the news, trading at US$88.10 in New York.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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