Belgian-based speciality materials group Umicore states that it has achieved record results for the full fiscal year 2018. The company further stated that it has reached its Horizon 2020 targets two years ahead of schedule, and restated its aim to become the undisputed leader in clean mobility materials and recycling, with its offering of product and process technologies combined with its closed loop approach and sustainable supply.
For the full year 2018, the company reported revenues of €3.3 billion, a 17% increase on the previous year, and recurring net profit across the group of €326 million, an increase of 22% on the previous year. Capital expenditures for the year amounted to €478 million, compared to €365 million in 2017.
Umicore is said to have won significant new business in the latter half of 2018 which will accelerate its growth in the coming years. In Automotive Catalysts, Umicore is said to have won the largest share of the gasoline platforms requiring particulate filters in Europe and China, while in Rechargeable Battery Materials, it reportedly continues to secure major xEV platforms with OEMs globally. The company is also continuing its R&D efforts, which is reflected in a 56% increase in the number of patent family filings compared to the previous year.
Marc Grynberg, Umicore CEO, stated, “I am really pleased to see that our strategic choices and recent investments are paying off. We have reached the original Horizon 2020 objectives two years ahead of schedule and are on track to achieve our raised ambitions notwithstanding a less favourable macro-economic environment in 2019.”
“Umicore is uniquely positioned to respond to societal trends and regulatory demands for cleaner mobility and recycling,” he continued. “We have the technologies and are expanding our capacity to ensure that we continue to grow and meet the rising demand for our products and services. I am also proud that Umicore is a pioneer in providing customers in the rechargeable battery value chain with materials of a certified clean and ethical origin.”
In order to meet continued fast-growing customer demand for its cathode materials used in rechargeable batteries for automotive applications, Umicore stated that it is rapidly expanding its production capacity. An investment programme of €460 million in China and Korea was reportedly completed in 2018.
In February 2018, Umicore announced an additional investment programme of €660 million in greenfield production sites in China and Europe. The new production lines in China will start to come on stream in the second half 2019, while construction of the European plant is expected to begin in spring 2019. Investments in the new Process Competence Center in Olen, Belgium, are expected to be commissioned in late 2019.
Umicore is also expanding its automotive catalyst production capacity in Poland and China, with new production lines due to come on stream in the second half of 2019. Major environmental investments at its plant in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA, aimed at revamping the lead refinery, have been completed, with an immediate and significant reduction in emissions.
Looking to the future, the company stated that the long-term fundamentals of the business are strong with positive prospects, notwithstanding current challenges in the macro economic environment impacting, in particular, the automotive sector. Umicore added that it remains on track to capture the upside potential of some 35–45% over and above its original Horizon 2020 ambitions, while maintaining a 15%+ ROCE target at Group level.