(Reuters) – Lithium miner Albemarle Corp reported a better-than-expected quarter on Wednesday after taking steps to cut costs to battle lower demand and said it sees higher volumes in the current year.
After the coronavirus dented growth prospects last year, Albemarle and its peers like SQM are now expecting to cash in on surging demand for the battery metal lithium, critical to electric vehicles that have become massively popular amid climate change concerns.
Albemarle has earlier said it looks to double production at its lithium facility in Silver Peak, Nevada, part of a plan to boost supply for the burgeoning electric vehicle market, while Chilean miner SQM has said its current plans to boost its production of lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide by the second half of 2021 remained on track.
“Longer-term, we expect lithium demand to grow in line with greater EV adoption. We are accelerating our lithium growth projects to capitalize on this trend and generate strong investment returns,” Albemarle said on Wednesday.
However, Albemarle warned that it expects pricing to be down slightly, and forecast adjusted profit in the range of $3.25 to $3.65 per share for 2021. It earned a profit of $4.12 per share in 2020.
In the lithium business, the company’s largest, sales fell 12.8% in the fourth quarter primarily due to lower contract and market pricing.
On an adjusted basis, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company earned $1.17 per share, beating estimates of $1.10 per share, according to Refinitiv IBES.
(Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Maju Samuel)