Albemarle CEO says long-term lithium demand remains ‘robust’ (Reuters U.S. – December 12, 2019)

(Reuters) – Albemarle Corp, the world’s largest lithium producer, expects robust long-term demand for the electric vehicle battery mineral despite troubles in the existing market resulting from oversupply, Chief Executive Luke Kissam said on Thursday.

The outlook comes as shareholder anxiety about Albemarle and its peers has escalated in recent months, with the industry having produced far more of the white metal than EV makers currently need.

Wall Street analysts have downgraded Albemarle and dinged Kissam’s management as a result, with JPMorgan analysts going so far as to say the company is “overvalued.” Albemarle’s shares are down 16 percent since January.

Kissam rolled out a robust defense of the company, which produces lithium in Chile and Australia and supplies the white metal for use in Tesla vehicles, telling investors he will work to control costs and produce only what the EV industry requires.

“The demand outlook for lithium remains robust,” Kissam said at the company’s investor day in New York, which was webcast. “We have enough lithium to satisfy demand for next 10 to 15 years.”

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