November 5, 2018 / 10:00 PM / 9 months ago

Livent profit fails to beat expectations; shares drop

(Reuters) - Livent Corp LTMN.N, the lithium producer spun off last month from FMC Corp (FMC.N), cut its 2018 sales forecast and posted a quarterly profit on Monday that failed to exceed Wall Street’s expectations, sending its shares down nearly 4 percent in after-hours trading.

The company logo for lithium producer Livent Corp is displayed on a screen at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during the company's IPO in New York, U.S., October 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The results served to underscore Wall Street’s ambivalence surrounding the lithium sector as concerns about market oversupply of the white metal offset bullish expectations for electric cars. Lithium is used to make electric car batteries.

Livent Chief Executive Officer Paul Graves told Reuters last month the Philadelphia-based company stood by FMC’s prior forecast for 2018 lithium sales of $430 million to $460 million. On Monday, Livent said it now expects 2018 sales of $440 million to $450 million.

Livent posted third-quarter net income of $30 million, compared to $25.5 million in the year-ago quarter. A comparable per-share net income figure was not immediately available.

Excluding one-time items, Philadelphia-based Livent posted earnings of 22 cents per share, meeting Wall Street’s expectations, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

FMC, which owns about 86 percent of Livent’s shares, said on Monday it plans to report lithium division results as part of its own results through the fourth quarter, effectively keeping Livent as part of its own reporting structure for the rest of the year. FMC said it also plans to sell its stake in Livent by next March.

Such a step will keep Livent closely aligned with its parent through 2019 at the earliest, limiting its ability to make independent decisions in the fast moving lithium sector.

Still, Livent expects demand for lithium to spike in coming years, in what the company hopes will be a positive harbinger for its shares, which dropped after last month’s IPO.

“We will continue to focus on strengthening partnerships with our customers through increased investment in additional capacity and developing new lithium-based technologies,” Livent CEO Graves said in a statement on Monday.

Shares of Livent fell 3.6 percent to $16.31 in after-hours trading on Monday. The company plans to host a conference call to discuss the quarterly results on Tuesday morning.

Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; editing by Bill Berkrot and Grant McCool

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