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Albemarle cuts annual forecast on slumping lithium prices

2nd November 2023

By: Reuters

  

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Albemarle, the world's largest producer of lithium for electric vehicle batteries, trimmed its annual forecast on Wednesday and reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit amid slumping prices for the ultralight metal.

Shares fell 1.9% to $120.67 in after-hours trading.

Worries have been mounting that global EV demand is softening and not keeping pace with aggressive growth targets set by automakers and regulators.

That is reflected in lithium prices, which have tumbled more than 60% this year. Albemarle, which supplies Tesla TSLA.O and other automakers, sells most of its lithium on long-term contracts linked to market pricing.

The company now expects the volume of lithium it sells this year to increase at least 30% from last year's levels, but for prices to increase only 15%, well short of the strong growth Wall Street had come to expect.

Albemarle reported third-quarter net income of $302.5-million, or $2.57 per share, compared to $897.2-million, or $7.61 per share, in the year-ago period.

Excluding one-time items, Albemarle earned $2.74 per share. By that measure, analysts expected earnings of $3.99 per share, according to IBES data from LSEG.

For the year, the company trimmed its net sales forecast to a range of $9.5-billion to $9.8-billion. Albemarle previously expected $10.4-billion to $11.5-billion.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company plans to hold a conference call with investors on Thursday to discuss the results.

Albemarle this month abandoned its $4.2-billion bid for Australian lithium developer Liontown Resources, citing "growing complexities." Hancock Prospecting, an iron-ore miner controlled by Gina Rinehart, Australia's richest person, controls more than 19% of Liontown's shares.

Rival Livent posted a drop in quarterly profit on Tuesday, citing expansion delays at a key Argentina project.

Edited by Reuters

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