Albemarle Corp posted higher than expected 4th quarter profit

Albemarle bullish on lithium outlook after fourth quarter profit

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(Reuters) – Albemarle Corp, the world’s largest lithium producer, posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday and gave a bullish 2019 outlook, saying it sees nothing that could slow demand for the white metal used to make electric car batteries.

The forecast for sales growth of up to 14% this year comes as anxiety grows among some investors that the race to supply lithium for batteries and other materials could flood the market, hurting profits by decreasing prices.

But the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company in a news release said it is “not forecasting any significant macroeconomic headwinds and have not seen any decline in our customer demand forecasts.”

Albemarle said it expects 2019 sales of $3.65 billion to $3.85 billion. Its shares rose 2.6% to $85 in after-hours trading.

The company reported fourth-quarter net income of $129.6 million, or $1.21 per share, compared to a net loss of $218.4 million, or $1.95 per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Excluding one-time items, Albemarle earned $1.53 per share. Analysts expected earnings of $1.47 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Lithium sales rose 18 percent to $341.6 million during the quarter on both higher volume and prices that were up 4 percent from a year ago, the company said.

Lithium is Albemarle’s largest segment, with two smaller units selling industrial chemicals.

Albemarle is expected to discuss its financial performance and outlook during a conference call with analysts on Thursday morning.

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Millicom buys Spain’s Telefonica for $1.65 billion

Millicom spends $1.65 billion on Telefonica Central America mobile businesses

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(Reuters) – Millicom International Cellular, a cable and mobile operator in Latin America and Africa, said on Wednesday it bought the mobile telecommunications assets of Spain’s Telefonica in Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua for $1.65 billion.

Telefonica has long been rumoured to want to sell in Mexico and Central America. Millicom’s chief operating officer in Latin America, Esteban Iriarte, declined to comment when asked if Millicom was interested in a presence in Mexico.

Last month, Telefonica said it had reached an agreement to sell its Guatemalan and El Salvadoran operations to Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s America Movil.

While Millicom already operates in Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Iriarte said he does not think the acquisition will raise anti-trust concerns because Telefonica’s business is primarily mobile, while Millicom’s is fixed.

“Both of us are operating in Central America, but in different areas,” he said.

The company is eager to add the Telefonica team to its ranks, he said.

“They have a very good base of people in Central America, and it will give us the chance to incorporate new talent in the company,” he said. “It’s great talent to have in the mobile area.”

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