The H.C. Starck Group, headquartered in Munich, Germany, has reported that in 2014 the company increased its sales volume to €785.9 million, up from €703.9 million in 2013.
“The increase in sales was also supported by our strategic growth projects in Asia: the tungsten joint ventures in China and Vietnam. That helped us grow significantly our tungsten powder business, and gain large market shares especially in Asia,” stated Andreas Meier, CEO of H.C. Starck. “Overall, though, 2014 was shaped by the difficult economic situation in our global core markets, which hurt the profitability of the business.”
Sales in the tungsten powder division increased by more than €75 million in 2014, bolstered by new customers and market share gains. In addition, the tungsten joint venture in China led to a significant sales-volume increase. The tungsten component business also saw a clear increase in sales volume, in particular thanks to the competitive cost structure at the division’s Chinese manufacturing site.
In the tantalum and niobium powder business, H.C. Starck reported no increase in demand. But despite this difficult market environment, the company was able to gain market shares for tantalum powders and reinforce its competitive position.
In the Surface Technology and Ceramic Powders division, H.C. Starck saw a double-digit percentage increase in sales. In particular, the thermal spray powder business benefited from increased demand in the United States and several new products and customers. The products sold under the names Amperit and Ampersint are important materials for energy production, medical technology as well as the oil and gas industry.
Despite the difficult situation in 2014, H.C. Starck managed to increase its investments up to around €40 million. The major part of the budget was spent for the construction of the production facilities of the new tungsten joint venture in Vietnam, into the German production sites and into the further expansion of the tungsten joint venture in China.
Research and development focused on projects to increase the yield in processing secondary materials and by-products, to continuously improve the quality of high-capacity tantalum and niobium powders, and to develop special tungsten carbides for the Asian market. Additionally, H.C. Starck signed a development contract with Rapid Prototype and Manufacturing (rp+m), a US company specialising in Additive Manufacturing.
The focus of the ongoing fiscal year is on optimizing the powder business. “With the complete startup and maximum capacity utilisation of our tungsten joint ventures in China and Vietnam, we are perfectly positioned to leverage Asia’s market potential and the demand for tungsten for our own growth,” added Andreas Meier. “Together with our existing tungsten powder production lines in Germany and Canada, that makes us the world’s largest independent tungsten manufacturer.”
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