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There is gold in making platinum into catalytic converters for cars

With the push to lower emissions in cars, building catalytic converters is a good business to be in and Johnson Matthey, as the world's foremost provider of the particulate scrubbing components, is raking in profits by the carload thanks to sales to American and European automakers.
Posted: June 7, 2012 - 10:11PM
Author: Don Bain


The company’s stock is up 6 percent and Johnson Matthey is feeling quite bullish on its long-term profits and potential growth.

They grew their business by refining platinum, now used to fabricate catalytic converters, as well as distributing pharmaceutical products, according to a post by Clara Ferreira-Marques for Reuters news service.

The firm’s pretax profits are up 23 percent for the year ending last March, totaling 426 million pounds or US $659 million. These totals surpassed projections by 15 million pounds, following a 20 percent growth in company revenue directly attributable to sales of catalysts outpacing the growth of the global vehicle market.

As a consequence of this good news, Johnson Matthey is issuing its initial special dividend, at 100 pence a share, in addition to the annual dividend of 55 pence, thanks to their current balance sheet, even in the face of the volatile economic conditions in parts of Europe.

"We feel the company is in good shape and the long-term prospects of the group remain strong," Reuters quoted Finance Director Robert MacLeod as stating. This is even after taking the currently softer prices on precious metals into consideration.

MacLeod says the company is well positioned to continue its planned research and development along with capital outlays, as they scramble to stay abreast of the growing market for catalytic converters – especially for trucks. The company will revalue its stock after the 212 million pound payout, though the ratio won’t be announced until later this month.

The company might have performed even better over the last year if not for nagging worries over the regional European economy of late.

"Profit before tax ... was comfortably clear of market projections, but of equal importance was the reasonably positive outlook statement,” stated financial analyst Charles Pick of Numis.

The price of precious metals has declined slightly, usually a sign of a stabilizing economy, but European automakers who have been stockpiling precious metals since 2008, are now using up those reserves as they watch the market price for metals like platinum decline. Though the company remains in good shape, it did not anticipate the temporary drop in demand since March.

Nevertheless, it would appear there’s still gold in the platinum used for catalytic converters, and as this Spring has been just labeled the warmest ever on record – while wheat farmers harvest their crops a full three weeks ahead of the norm – the concern over what we burn and put into the air will assuredly continue unabated.

The image above titled Aufgeschnittener Metall Katalysator für ein Auto is by Stahlkocher and courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.