Shares of leading agricultural services provider and lithium miner FMC Corp (NYSE:FMC) jumped over 11% last month after the company announced second-quarter 2017 financial results on the first day of August. The stock popped nearly 9% and never looked back -- establishing new 52-week highs in the process.
The move last month continues an epic run-up in the stock that has rewarded investors with returns of 115% since the beginning of 2016. Although a bit expensive on traditional valuation metrics (the stock trades at 56 times earnings), investors have high hopes for FMC Corp stock. Besides, the leading lithium miners have all traded at a premium in recent quarters, and the company's performance for the first half of 2017 provides a solid argument in favor of deserving that premium.
While both the agricultural solutions and lithium segments powered the company's growth in the year-over-year comparison, the best is yet to come. The agricultural solutions unit has barely grown revenue, and it witnessed a small slide in earnings in the first half of 2017 compared to last year but began enjoying a boost from South America that should prove valuable in the second half of the year.
More importantly, the acquisition of agricultural assets from DuPont won't close until November, which will provide an immediate boost to revenue and earnings in 2018.
FMC Corp is also benefiting from its leading position as a lithium miner. The company's lithium segment grew earnings 45% year over year, mostly on higher pricing, in the second quarter. While the first sales from a production expansion project were also made during the last quarter, the output gain will be fully implemented by the fourth quarter of 2017. That will result in another significant boost for the company for the full calendar year of 2018 -- and future lithium production expansions are coming down the pipeline.
Investors have a lot to like about FMC Corp's future. It will continue to benefit from being a leading provider of agricultural solutions, especially once the DuPont assets are fully owned and integrated. After all, that move will make the company the world's fifth-largest agricultural technology company. And of course, the lithium segment will continue to provide healthy gains to earnings growth in the coming years as global demand soars. So while the stock looks pretty expensive at the moment, that could change depending on the length of your outlook.