19 May 2009 19:24 [Source: ICIS news]TORONTO (ICIS news)--?xml:namespace>
Albemarle's focus would be on productivity, technology and innovation, Rohr told analysts during an outline of the company's strategy during an investor day in New York.
Starting in mid-2008, the world “changed a bit,” Rohr said and pointed to the sharp decline in US industrial production, as well as plunging output in the auto, construction materials, computer, appliances and furniture sectors.
However, beyond the current crisis, Rohr said he was confident of Albemarle's future.
“Amidst all the bad news, I think there is a silver lining,” he said, adding that Albemarle was well-placed to manage through the crisis based on its strength in technology and innovation.
One particular "sweet spot" for Albemarle were new US Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, Rohr said. The new standards are due to be announced by the government this week.
The standards opened up opportunities for Albemarle's catalysts and polymeric businesses, Rohr said.
"There is going to be a tremendous need for lighter-weight materials, new materials of construction and the need for alternative fuels in the driving of these vehicles in a carbon-neutral fashion," he said.
At the same time, Albemarle would stress cash generation, cost savings and productivity improvements.
This would involve asset consolidation, rationalisation, improved cash and capital management, and it would require Albemarle’s workforce to be even more “flexible,” he said.
One measure Albemarle was taking was the elimination of much of its third-party contracting, Rohr said.
“We have a lot of third-party people associated with our corporation. We are eliminating that and are bringing in as of that work in-house as we can,” he said.
Albemarle vice president for manufacturing Luther Kissam said the company would further consolidate production, idle some assets while divesting non-core assets, and also reduce staff.
Albemarle already cut 350 jobs in the first quarter and froze wages - except in those locations were collective bargaining agreements prevented that - as capacity utilisation rates averaged less than 50%, Kissam said.
Albemarle’s shares were priced $27.37, up 0.18% from Monday’s closing. The shares’ 52-week high and low is $45.90 and $15.54, respectively.
($1 = €0.74)
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