E may = mc 2, but FMC = chemicals. Once in areas as diverse as oil field equipment and food machinery, FMC Corporation now focuses on industrial, specialty, and agricultural chemicals. The company's industrial chemicals include soda ash (it's one of the largest producers), hydrogen peroxide, and phosphorus chemicals. The rest of its sales come from agricultural products (insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides) and specialty chemicals (food and pharmaceutical additives). FMC's equation has improved after a few years' effort to increase its efficiency, profitability, and credit rating.
While FMC earns most of its revenues from North America, it also has operations in Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America.
FMC revenues were up 8% in 2011, boosted by an increase in global economic activity and earnings in two of its operating segments: its Agricultural Products unit gained 18% on sales in North America (due to increased herbicide demand because of unfavorable weather), South America (driven by favorable sugarcane, cotton, and soybean markets in Brazil), and Asia; its Specialty Chemical segment was up 7% on higher demand for lithium and biopolymers; while its Industrial Chemicals group saw a 3% sales decreased due to the sale of the company's phosphate and sulfur derivative businesses in Spain in 2010.
The company's net income increased by 107% in 2011, as higher revenues outpaced a growth in selling, general, and administrative expenses caused by increased spending on targeted growth initiatives and on foreign exchange.
The company's strategic plan, Vision 2015, focuses on several areas, including strengthening the company's market positions through organic growth and selective acquisitions; increasing its presence in emerging markets; shifting to a more centralized organization to leverage the size and scope of the company; and proactively managing its portfolio, assessing each unit's performance and taking action quickly when conditions warrant.
The food and pharmaceutical additives product groups are the areas of choice where FMC is planning for growth. Product development has been concentrated on specialty chemicals product areas such as energy storage (lithium products for batteries), natural food ingredients, and agricultural products (home and garden pesticides).
In 2012 FMC acquired UK-based Phytone, a leading European natural colors producer for the food and beverage, personal care, and nutrition markets. The acquisition fits into- FMC's Vision 2015 growth strategy because it expects the natural colors market to reach more than $1 billion by 2015. It also agreed to purchase natural pectin maker Pectine Italia. The move corresponds with the natural foods plan and launches the company into the pectin market.
That same year, FMC formed a joint venture with a consortium of Argentine companies to create Ruralco Soluciones SA, an agrochemical distribution company. FMC's partner are affiliates of Argentine distributor Agropecuaria del Litoral. The venture allowed FMC to expand through access to Argentina's $1.7 billion crop protection market.
In 2012 Capital World Investors held 11.2% of FMC. – less