Albemarle lays off 4% of its global workforce

30th January 2024 By: Bloomberg

Albemarle lays off 4% of its global workforce

Albemarle, the world's largest lithium producer, has laid off more than 300 employees, or 4% of its workforce, as part of a previously announced round of cost-cuts, The Information news site reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company said earlier this month it would cut jobs and pause expansion in response to slipping prices for the metal used in electric vehicle batteries.

Albemarle at that time did not specify the number of job cuts, but indicated the moves would save at least $50-million in 2024 alone.

Global supply of the ultralight metal over the past year has outpaced demand from the battery market, fueling a glut that has dragged on pricing.

"The percentage referenced (in media reports) is too high," an Albemarle spokesperson said in response to a request for comment from Reuters on The Information report.

The company, however, declined to provide specific numbers and said more information would be shared when it discusses quarterly results on February 15.

Albemarle's website says the company has more than 7 000 employees, which would put the percentage of layoffs at roughly 4.2%.

Albemarle shares closed up 2.8% on Monday at $123.20.

The company's layoffs in US operations came from its legal, mergers and acquisitions, marketing, materials sciences, research and development and recycling teams, while cuts occurred internationally as well, The Information reported.

Brokerage TD Cowen cut Albemarle's rating on Monday to "market perform" from "outperform" - essentially advising investors to hold rather than buy the stock - because it expects the company to burn through cash due to weak lithium prices, putting stress on the balance sheet.

As part of cuts announced earlier this month, Albemarle said it would defer spending on a US refinery project, although the company told Reuters at the time it would not pause development of its direct lithium extraction project in Arkansas.

Albemarle produces lithium in Chile, Australia and the US, and operates processing facilities in China. It counts Tesla and other automakers as some of its biggest customers.