Albemarle Corp., the world’s largest producer of lithium, raised its outlook for the second time this month as tight supply and growing electric-vehicle demand forces battery makers to pay up for the metal.
The Charlotte, North Carolina-based miner now expects sales from $5.8 billion to $6.2 billion this year, up from its previous estimate of $5.2 billion to $5.6 billion. to boosted profit forecasts for the year due to “additional index-referenced, variable-price contracts for battery grade lithium sales,” it said in a statement. Shares jumped as much as 5.3% in trading after normal exchange hours.
Demand for electric vehicles — and the batteries that power them — has driven prices for key metals higher, even sparking fears of shortages of materials like lithium, cobalt and nickel. Lithium supplies are a concern in particular because there’s no substitute for it in electric vehicle batteries. A gauge of lithium prices more than doubled in the first four months of this year after surging 280% last year.
The company last increased its guidance on May 4 when it released first-quarter earnings. Overall, the midpoint of Albemarle’s 2022 sales estimate is 38% higher than just a few weeks ago.
Shares of Albemarle lost 1% to $240.4255 as of 10:17 a.m. in New York trading. Earlier, they rose by as much as 2.9%.
(By Yvonne Yue Li)