SQM put out its Q1 results this week, and while the world's biggest lithium producer reported decreased revenues, there was a bit of good news for the lithium space. The company said the lithium price was higher for the quarter, noting that overall it expects it to be higher than it was in 2014.
Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (NYSE:SQM) put out its first-quarter results this week, and while the world's biggest lithium producer reported decreased revenues, there was a bit of good news for the lithium space. Specifically, the company's revenues were down about 27 percent relative to the first quarter of 2014, with revenues from its lithium business down about 7 percent, at US$48.6 million, year-over-year. However, the company also reported that the lithium price was nearly 10 percent higher relative to the fourth quarter of 2014. Overall it expects the price this year to be higher than it was in 2014. "Our sales volumes were strong during the first quarter, and we expect to finish the year with volumes slightly higher than volumes seen in 2014," said SQM CEO Patricio de Solminihac in a statement, adding, "[t]he lithium business continues to see strong market growth, and average prices during the first quarter were close to 10% higher than prices seen during the fourth quarter of 2014." The company notes in its release that demand in the lithium market "remained strong" for the quarter, mainly led by growth in the battery industry. And certainly, despite all the excitement surrounding Tesla Motors' (NASDAQ: TSLA) unveiling of its new suite of home-use lithium-ion batteries, the company's upcoming gigafactory isn't the only game in town. "Batteries are rising in demand without the gigafactory," said Simon Moores of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. "China in particular is seeing strong demand. Strong sales of products like the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 6 have a direct impact on the price of lithium. With the way the individual consumer uses battery-powered devices today, this isn't changing ... it's only going to get more extreme."