Brussels – Revenues were up 10 percent compared to the third quarter last year, with strong underlying growth in Catalysis and Energy & Surface Technologies more than offsetting the impact of lower metal prices on the recycling activities, according to Umicore`strading update for Quarter 3/2015.
Growth in Catalysis was driven mainly by positive volume and product mix effects in Automotive Catalysts. The revenue increase in Energy & Surface Technologies reflected solid volume growth in Rechargeable Battery Materials and higher revenues in Cobalt & Specialty Materials. Revenues in Recycling were impacted by lower metal prices and the extended shutdown in Precious Metals Refining.
Revenues for Automotive Catalysts increased considerably year on year benefitting from strong demand for Umicore’s catalysts for light duty vehicles and a more supportive product mix in that segment. The ongoing ramp-up in production of catalysts for heavy duty diesel vehicles in Europe and Asia further contributed to the positive revenue evolution. A 3 percent expansion in the global passenger car market was mainly driven by growth in the European (+5.2 percent) and North American (+5.7 percent) markets. Umicore’s volumes and revenues increased significantly, outperforming the market globally and in most regions.
In Precious Metals Chemistry sales volumes were up year on year largely driven by an increase in demand from the automotive industry for precursors used in catalytic applications. Global sales of API’s (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) were also higher.
Revenues in Energy & Surface Technologies increased by 24 percent mainly as a result of strong volume growth in Rechargeable Battery Materials and higher revenues for Cobalt & Specialty Materials.
Revenues in Rechargeable Battery Materials gathered further momentum from the second quarter and were well up year on year reflecting strong volume growth. Demand for Umicore’s high energy LCO (lithium cobaltite) materials used in Li-ion batteries for high-end portable electronics increased further, driven by the introduction of new models. Umicore recorded strong growth in sales of NMC (nickel manganese cobalt) cathode materials used in batteries for electrified vehicles following the market introduction of new models. This is particularly the case in China where sales of electrified cars, e-buses and utility vehicles are being supported by government incentives.
Revenues for Cobalt & Specialty Materials were up year on year. This was driven by a higher contribution from the cobalt and nickel refining and distribution activities, as well as the integration of the businesses acquired in the second half of 2014. Competitive price pressure in some end-markets and lower metal prices had a negative impact on margins. Umicore announced investment plans to upgrade its refining facility in Olen that will enable the business unit to increase its production of cobalt and its ability to recycle cobalt and nickel- bearing residues.
Revenues and sales volumes in Electroplating were up slightly with no significant changes in the demand patterns seen earlier in the year. The main source of growth continues to be rhodium, silver and gold products used in decorative and anti-tarnish applications.
Revenues for Electro-Optic Materials remained well up year on year, supported by a higher contribution from the recycling and refining activities and increased sales of high purity chemicals. Overall sales of infrared optics products showed healthy growth, while sales of substrates were in line with previous year.
Net debt increased over the quarter due to interim dividend payments of € 50 million and share-buy backs of € 32 million.
Outlook: Umicore expects its full year recurring EBIT to be towards the middle of the previously stated range of € 310 million to € 340 million.
The full Umicore Trading Update Q3 2015 can be downloaded from hugin.info.