August 1, 2018 / 9:08 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-FMC's quarterly profit beats expectations as lithium sales jump

(Adds earnings comparison, stock movement, unit info)

Aug 1 (Reuters) - FMC Corp, the chemical producer spinning off its lithium division as a publicly traded company later this year, posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday as sales of the mineral used to make electric vehicle batteries surged.

FMC said it expects lithium results to improve further, and the company boosted its forecast for 2018 lithium earnings to a range of $195 million to $205 million, up $2 million.

The lithium unit is still expected to launch an initial public offering in October and be called “Livent Corp,” FMC said in a press release.

The company posted net income of $129.7 million, or 96 cents per share, compared with $74.7 million, or 56 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Excluding one-time items, FMC earned $1.78 per share. By that measure, analysts expected quarterly profit of $1.72 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales of lithium jumped 45 percent in the quarter to $107.9 million.

FMC said the increase was also due to its buyout last year of agricultural assets from DowDuPont Inc. Ag sales more than doubled to $1.15 billion.

Shares of FMC rose slightly to $88.50 in after-hours trading.

Philadelphia-based FMC plans to hold a conference call to discuss the quarterly results on Thursday morning. (Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Tom Brown)

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