FMC Earnings Call Nuggets: Lighter Lithium Guidance and Strong Q1 Expectations

FMC Corporation (NYSE:FMC) recently reported its fourth quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Lighter Lithium Guidance

John McNulty – Credit Suisse: Just a couple of questions. So, on the Lithium guidance in particular for the first quarter it seems lighter than I would expected for the business to be flat year-over-year considering all the weather issues you had last year. So, I guess two questions around that. First, does it include the charge that you talked about or is that ex-charge? And if it’s ex-charge then what’s happening, because it does seem like your volumes at least in the commodity side were really almost non-existent last year and so the idea that they are going to be flat with that this quarter seems a little bit low?

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Pierre Brondeau – Chairman, President and CEO: John, first, the numbers we are talked about are ex-charge and I want to refer back to my last points. Where we are in Lithium today, and you know it’s been a struggle. Yes, we had the weather issue at the beginning of the year, but I think most importantly, we now realize that the process, the manufacturing process itself was clearly damaged during the expansion. And the damage was significant to a point that we do have to really find the manufacturing process. We are implementing those changes which are requiring, changing equipment and process and start on the plant at times. So, we’re going to have a full quarter from a manufacturing standpoint in Argentina which is at the beginning of a process because from the brines what we are doing, releasing the chloride and carbonate and then the other derivatives. So, that’s where we are, second quarter we will see real improvement, still challenging and I think it’s in the second half of the year with the process change we do have in place right now. I mean we have remedies; we have engineering firms and our own enduring staff working on it. It’s going to take into the third quarter to see the full production rate.

John McNulty – Credit Suisse: Then on the North Carolina change, the restructuring around that? I thought your North Carolina plant was largely an upgrading facility where you start, where you were producing some pretty high end products. So, I guess what changes are happening there. I know you are changing your product mix at all, or is it just kind of streamlining of the process in North Carolina?