For the 2012 financial year, H.C. Starck expects good results – despite the current difficulty in assessing economic prospects and low demand in the electronics industry at the beginning of 2012. “We’ve had a good start in 2012; however, the international economic conditions are significantly more demanding than they were last year,” said Andreas Meier, Chairman of the H.C. Starck Executive Board.
H.C. Starck, one of the leading manufacturers of refractory metals and technical ceramics, achieved sustainable profitable growth in 2011. Worldwide, H.C. Starck’s sales grew by 28% to EUR 883.2 million from EUR 689.3 million in 2010. Operating profit also increased significantly compared to the year before.
“2011 was an outstanding year for H.C. Starck. We have more than exceeded our strategic and operational goals in all business segments and have continued on the positive, profitable growth track from the previous year,” explained Andreas Meier, Chairman of the H.C. Starck Executive Board.
For the 2012 financial year, the company expects good results – despite the current difficulty in assessing economic prospects and low demand in the electronics industry at the beginning of 2012. “We’ve had a good start into 2012; however, the international economic conditions are significantly more demanding than they were last year,” said Meier. “Our goal is to prove the sustainability of our business success in 2012. We want to build on our market positions and use our technical expertise to develop new products and branch out into new markets. With our almost 100 years of experience in manufacturing technically sophisticated refractory metals, we can deliver crucial added value.”
Meier continued, “We want to further develop our fast-growing, unique recycling activities. We are the global technology leader when it comes to recycling refractory metals. With a current rate of around 50%, recycling is a vital pillar in our materials sourcing.”
Furthermore, alongside expanding European capacity in 2012, H.C. Starck intends to strengthen its regional commitments, particularly in Asia, and will invest in the development of high-quality tungsten products in China. In 2011, the company signed agreements for two joint ventures in the production of tungsten chemicals, tungsten metal, and tungsten carbide in 2011 with Jiangxi Rare Metals Tungsten Holding Group Co. Ltd. (JXTC), one of the largest tungsten mining companies in China. Following the planned ground breaking ceremony for the production plant in early 2012, the plant should begin production of several thousands tons of high-quality tungsten products for the Chinese market in a matter of months. In October 2011, the ground breaking ceremony took place at the production plant site for CS Energy Materials Ltd. (CSEM), a joint venture with Japanese chemical firm Japan New Chisso Corp., for the development and manufacture of cathode materials for high-performance lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars. Production is due to begin mid-2012 in Minamata, Japan.
The developments in the 2011 financial year were supported by high demand in the tantalum and niobium division, particularly from the electronics industry. The company achieved excellent results in Asia, in particular, despite the natural disasters in Japan (earthquake) and Thailand (flooding). The tungsten division notably experienced an improvement in the field of carbide tools. Increased demand from the automotive industry and the renewable energy segment led to good results for ceramic powders. Alongside the sputtering target business for special coatings, H.C. Starck noted growing demand in the fabricated products business segment, primarily from the chemical processing and industrial furnace sectors. In the technical ceramics business segment, H.C. Starck was able to improve its results, especially through an increase in complex engineering parts and productivity improvements in business processes.
In addition, the company has resolved one of its most important core strategic issues by securing the long-term supply of conflict-free raw materials. H.C. Starck received the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) certification as a “conflict-free smelter” for the tantalum supply chain. “Our raw material procurement stands on two strong pillars: longer-term supply contracts with established mines and the continuous expansion of our recycling activities,” said Meier.
Now more than ever, an expertise in recycling honed over many years and the often unique processing methods for environmentally sound reconditioning make H.C. Starck the strategic partner of growth-oriented industries, who feel a responsibility toward the principles of sustainability. In light of ever more intensive global competition for strategic raw materials, technically sophisticated recycling will significantly increase – as an essential component of a stable raw material supply. With this resource cycle, natural resources will be conserved.
“We successfully developed H.C. Starck last year and were able to sustainably improve our market position. We therefore started 2012 in great shape and will demonstrate that our success can continue even under economically challenging market conditions. We want to implement a number of growth projects this year to attain an even stronger market presence, particularly in Asia,” stated Meier.