Livent cuts 2019 forecast on weak demand; shares tumble

(Reuters) - Livent Corp cut its full-year profit and revenue forecasts on Tuesday due to lower demand for lithium hydroxide from some of its main customers and weaker prices, sending its shares down as much as 16 percent in extended trading.

FILE PHOTO: The company logo for lithium producer Livent Corp is displayed on a screen at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during the company's IPO in New York, U.S., October 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

The company now expects 2019 adjusted earnings of 56 cents to 66 cents per share, compared with 92 cents to 98 cents per share it had estimated in February.

Livent, which has been hit by uncertainty around China’s electric vehicle subsidies, said it does not expect to see a meaningful change in demand until late 2019 or early 2020.

“We are seeing weaker near-term demand for our high-performance lithium hydroxide, as several major customers have informed us about recent decisions to delay their own commercial launches of high-nickel cathode chemistries,” Chief Executive Officer Paul Graves said.

The chemical is used in high performance lithium-ion batteries and as an industrial lubricant.

However, the company said it expects the outlook for electric vehicles and demand for lithium to remain positive, as more companies plan to launch new electric vehicles.

The Philadelphia-based company, among the first major global lithium producers, said it now expects 2019 revenue of $435 million to $475 million, compared with its prior forecast of $495 million to $525 million.

It reported a profit of 12 cents per share for the three month to March 31, in-line with the average analyst estimate, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Livent also said its lithium carbonate operations in Argentina were back at normal levels, following almost three weeks of lost production due to the heavy rains in late January.

About 1,000 tons of lithium carbonate production for 2019 were lost, higher than its February estimates, the company said.

Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva