CEO Gilles Michel described the "good-quality results" the
company has achieved as a "reflection of the strategy Imerys
has been pursuing" in external expansion, improvement in
product offering and divestment of non-performing assets.
Despite the overall positive performance of the group,
Michel pointed to "contrasts between geographical regions
and sectors" leading to positive and negative impact on
Some divisions have been dragged down by persisting
weakness in specific markets, namely steelmaking, paper
The sluggish steel industry affected refractory minerals
and refractory products sales. The High Resistance Minerals
division, which accounted for 14% of total revenues in
January-September, saw an 8.2% drop in turnover
year-on-year. Within Energy Solutions and Specialities, the
monolithic refractories business suffered from weakness in
European markets, both in terms of new activity as well as
maintenance works. "Reducing our cost structures [in
refractories remains a priority]," Pirotte added.
To counteract the downtrend, Imerys is bringing in
external businesses, with the recent acquisitions of SPAR
in the US and Fagersta Eldfasta AB in Sweden. With SPAR, in
particular, the company aims to branch out of steelmaking
towards other refractory users, namely petrochemicals,
cement and incinerators.
The executive pointed out the downtrend was less strong
in foundry minerals. The company is now in the process of
ramping up its facility in Bahrain, and has received the
go-ahead from European authorities for its proposed
acquisition of fellow French alumina producer Alteo.
Paper was "down in mature countries, particularly in
mechanical paper", Pirotte said, which affected kaolin
mineral sales. At the same time, speciality applications
for kaolin had an overall better trend, supported by the
takeover of BASF’s kaolin business.
Another segment of Energy/Specialities, ceramic
proppants remained "lacklustre" on the back of low prices
in energy markets. Ceramic proppants accounted for 2% of
sales. Confirming what Imerys had told IM
at the time of the Q1 results, the company is aiming to
hold the negative component of oilfield minerals businesses
at the level of 2015, thus not exceeding the loss of
€27m recorded in 2015.
Michel noted that "there is always going to be a market
for ceramic proppants" in the long term, and added that
improvements in the oil price is a good sign.
Energy Solutions and Specialities as a whole accounted
for 30% of total turnover.
Filtration and Performance Additives posted over 5%
growth and held a 27% share of group revenues. Here,
Pirotte singled out strong wollastonite sales driven by
automotive applications. The division was among the main
ones to benefit from the company’s acquisition
of Greece-based S&B in 2014.
Ceramic Materials also had a 5.7% revenue growth. Here,
the executive pointed to a "robust performance" of roofing
tiles despite the market showing no sign of recovery,
particularly in France.
On the other hand, the company saw "good market dynamics"
in other end markets, namely automotive, construction (in
the US) and consumer goods. In the latter category, the
segments of energy (components for lithium batteries for
mobile phones and other electronics), cosmetics and
pharmaceutical saw strong activity.