When it comes to chemistry, Albemarle does it all. The company develops, manufactures, and markets specialty chemicals for a range of markets, including automotive, consumer electronics, crop protection, food safety, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and refining. Its main products include polymer additives (flame retardant chemicals, antioxidants that help extend fuel storage life, and curatives that improve reaction time in coatings, adhesives, and elastomers), as well as catalysts and fine chemicals. Albemarle also offers fine chemistry services, which include custom manufacturing, research, and scale-up for companies that are developing new products like drugs or agrichemicals.
Albemarle's operations are divided into three business segments: Polymer Solutions, Catalysts, and Fine Chemistry. Polymer Solutions produces products in two main categories: flame retardants and plastic additives, such as stabilizers and curatives. Its Catalysts segment focuses on hydroprocessing catalysts (used to reduce sulfur and impurities from petroleum products) and fluidized catalytic cracking catalysts (used to help produce higher-value fuels and petrochemical feedstocks) for refinery customers. The Catalysts segment also consists of a Performance Catalyst Solutions (PCS) division, which manufactures polymer catalysts, chemical catalysts, and electronic materials. Albemarle's third segment, Fine Chemistry, consists of two product categories: performance chemicals and fine chemistry services and intermediates.
Albemarle and its joint ventures operate some 50 facilities -- covering production, R&D, administrative, and sales -- across North America, South America, Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA), and the Asia/Pacific region.
Thanks to the recovering global economy the company's overall revenues were up 21% in 2011. All three of the company's business segments showed growth in 2011, led by the catalysts unit with a 25% increase, due primarily to higher sales volumes and favorable pricing; the fine chemicals segment (its smallest revenue generator) was up 32% due to higher demand and volumes; polymer solutions grew by 11%.
In 2011 Albemarle's net income was up 38% over the previous year, due primarily to sales and production increases, as well as higher prices and favorable foreign currency impacts.
In the last few years, Albemarle has devoted significant resources to expanding its global facilities and to making acquisitions and forming joint ventures, which together are improving its production capacity, beefing up its portfolio of products, and introducing new alternatives for discovery through additonal chemistries. In 2012 Albemarle opened a new research and operations center at its catalyst manufacturing facilities in South Korea. Prior to that, in 2011, it acquired Iowa-based Catilin, which expanded Albemarle's offerings in the biofuels market.
In 2012 it also opened a shared services center in Dalian, China. Known as Albemarle's Asia-Pacific Center of Excellence (CoE), the Dalian site was developed as part of the company's strategy and complements the regional CoEs currently operating in Budapest, Hungary and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
As part of a restructuring plan, the company has been divesting some of its underperforming assets, It decided to exit its phosphorous flame retardants business in 2012. Part of its Polymer Solutions segment, the business has manufacturing plants in the UK and China which will close. The company also sold its Teesport, UK, plant to Finland's Kemira Oyj. The Teesport facility produces emulsifiers and intermediates for the drilling fluids industry.
FMR LLC (aka Fidelity Investments) owns about 15% of Albermarle. – less