Watch Out for This Fast-Moving Chemical Company

Here's another chemical company that has reported great third-quarter numbers, and has also raised its full-year earnings guidance.

Apart from its numbers, FMC's (NYSE: FMC  ) growth moves are very impressive. And they should pave the way for solid growth. Here's what makes FMC a strong bet:

Pricey gains
Higher selling prices played a big role in driving FMC's third-quarter revenues up 11.6% from the year-ago quarter. Its industrial and specialty-chemicals segments' revenues increased 12% and 8%, respectively, primarily because of high soda ash and lithium prices.

What's worth noting is that not only does the company cater to the booming agriculture sector, but it's also into high-potential areas such as lithium. FMC hiked lithium prices awhile back -- an action in line with that of peers like Rockwood Holdings (NYSE: ROC  ) .

Now, taking cues from the bullish outlook on lithium and its demand from the largest lithium producer, Sociedad Quimica y Minera (NYSE: SQM  ) , FMC could make a lot from lithium too.

Strong top-line growth helped raise FMC's income from continuing operations by around 13% from the year-ago quarter to $97.2 million. Owing to some restructuring charges, its net income came in at $86.8 million as compared to $82.9 million last year.

Latin America rules
When it comes to driving demand for agricultural products such as insecticides and herbicides, Latin America is emerging as the leader. FMC's largest segment, agricultural products, saw revenues up a good 24%, with the highest growth coming from Latin America, especially Brazil.

Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW  ) witnessed something similar when its third-quarter agricultural sciences segment's sales surged 27%, with the highest gains coming from Latin America. This region was also a significant driver behind seed giant Monsanto's (NYSE: MON  ) 39% jump in the third-quarter sales of its seeds and genomics segment. The company now views Latin America as the largest source of growth complementing its U.S. business in 2012. A strong early start to the Latin American planting season also helped DuPont's (NYSE: DD  ) agriculture segment sales shoot up by 41% in its third quarter.

Growing, and how!
Like many other companies, FMC is making big investments in emerging markets.

It signed an agreement with Marrone Bio Innovations, a pesticide provider, to exclusively develop and distribute a plant-protective biological product in Latin America.

FMC also agreed to commercialize global bioscience company Chr. Hansen's products in Brazil. Access to Hansen's products will provide a good opportunity to FMC to develop other biological products for agricultural use.

The company also established a joint venture in Argentina, Ruralco Soluciones, to directly access the country's large and growing agrochemical market. A 30% lithium capacity expansion project is also under way in Argentina.

In addition, FMC joined hands with two companies, Church & Dwight and TATA Chemicals, to manufacture and market materials that remove harmful pollutants in electric utility and industrial boiler operations.

And in a bid to extend its specialty products into health-care and nutrition markets, and tap the natural colorants market, FMC will acquire Chilean-based company South Pole Biogroup.

Solid moves, aren't they?

The Foolish bottom line
FMC announced two soda ash price hikes recently, the benefits of which will continue to arise next year. This, along with a buoyant agriculture sector and a strong lithium market, should take care of FMC's future performance. And as far as growth is concerned, the aggressive moves mentioned earlier indicate how FMC is growing. FMC sure looks like a fast-moving chemical company to me!

Make sure to add FMC to My Watchlist. It's a free, personalized stock-tracking service from Motley Fool that will keep you updated on everything that FMC does, and where its future is headed.

Neha Chamaria does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Rockwood Holdings. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Sociedad Quimica y Minera. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a synthetic long position in Monsanto. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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