February 12, 2018 / 9:50 PM / a year ago

FMC profit beat fueled by higher lithium prices, China expansion

(Reuters) - U.S. crop chemical maker FMC Corp’s (FMC.N) quarterly profit topped analysts’ estimates on Monday, as income in the company’s lithium business doubled on expansion in China and higher prices.

The company, which has transformed itself into a major crop chemicals producer, reiterated plans to list FMC Lithium in the second half of 2018 to create two separate public companies.

FMC’s shares rose 4 percent to $86 in after-market trading.

The shares gained about 67 percent in 2017 as investors bet on rising demand for lithium from electric automakers and the company’s acquisition late last year of DuPont’s crop chemicals portfolio.

FMC said on Monday it would invest in doubling its lithium production to 40,000 metric tonnes per year in Argentina by 2022, three years later than its earlier target.

Revenue in the company’s lithium business jumped 60 percent to $113 million in the fourth quarter from a year earlier.

Total revenue increased 42.3 percent to $979.6 million in the three months ended Dec. 31, largely benefiting from the acquisition of DuPont’s crop protection unit.

FMC bought part of the DuPont unit in November in exchange for FMC’s health and nutrition business, and $1.6 billion in cash and working capital.

The company’s net income soared to $531.1 million, or $3.94 per share, from $16.4 million, or 12 cents per share, a year earlier.

The net income included a $727 million gain, net of tax, from the sale of the health and nutrition business, partially offset by a provisional charge of $316 million related to the recent changes to the U.S. tax law.

Excluding the gain and other one-time items, the company earned $1.10 per share, beating analysts’ average estimate of $1.05, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Reporting by Karan Nagarkatti in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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