French industrial minerals group Imerys SA posted strong
results in the first quarter of 2017 with notable growth in
turnover and income, on the back of improving market dynamics
as well as revenue injection from acquired companies.
Imerys reported higher sales across a number of markets
while businesses that had seen prolonged decline in previous
quarters – such as monolithic refractories and, to an
extent, ceramic proppants – have reached a degree of
Growth in sales was seen in three out of
Imerys’ four main divisions – energy
solutions & specialities, filtration and performance
additives, and high resistance materials – while
ceramic materials recorded a 4% decline in turnover
Energy solutions & specialities posted a 7% increase in
Q1 revenues y-o-y, to €322m ($350.8m). Chief financial
officer, Olivier Pirotte, pointed to a stabilisation of
monolithic refractories sales following a prolonged decline.
Monolithic refractories accounted for 37% of the
division’s sales in the quarter.
Industrial and construction markets, particularly in the US,
drove sales of carbonates, which increased slightly.
Strong activity was also reported in the graphite &
carbon division – where Imerys Graphite & Carbon
recently concluded the acquisition of Japanese anode
manufacturer Nippon Power Graphite (NPG)to increase its
presence in the lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery space.
|Imerys Q1 results at a glance
In oilfield solutions, the ceramics proppants business
continued to underperform, in line with the slow activity in
shale oil and gas drilling.
High resistance materials posted a 24% growth in quarterly
sales, which Pirotte ascribed to the "ongoing market recovery"
in refractory minerals, pushing customers to buy more and
Filtration and performance additives also had a double-digit
increase in turnover (+12%), on the back of strong momentum in
the performance additives sector.
Pirotte spoke of "very dynamic growth, driven by automotive
polymer in particular" across all regions.
Ceramic materials was the main division that underperformed,
with quarterly revenues down almost 4% to €311m. This was
down to further contraction in demand for clay roof tiles, amid
a slow performance of the real estate market in France.
The executive pointed to "fewer and fewer new housing
starts", which affected the business.
The kaolin operation benefited from transition volumes
following the acquisition of BASF’s paper hydrous
kaolin segment, although the paper industry remains in the
In his outlook for 2017, Imerys’ CEO, Gilles
Michel, said: "We’ll not attempt to make an
economic forecast, but the economic environment has been
unclear for the past few months."
He noted that three main drivers of growth in the coming
quarters will be "tight management of costs, contributions from
synergies from recent acquisitions, and the completion of the
acquisition of Kerneos by mid-2017".
This article from the June issue of Industrial
Minerals magazine was first published online on 28