H.C. Starck expects sustained recovery of core markets in 2017

  • Far-reaching cost reductions compensate part of decrease in sales in 2016
  • Group annual sales at 688.4 million euros
  • New corporate legal structure successfully implemented
Munich, April 5th, 2017. H.C. Starck, one of the leading manufacturers of customer-specific powders and components made from technology metals and advanced ceramics, expects to see a sustained recovery of its core markets in the 2017 fiscal year. During the past fiscal year 2016, sales were down due to the tough market environment and decreases in the prices of raw materials. With an overall value of 688.4 million euros, the annual turnover remained below the previous year’s figure of 815.2 million euros. As of December 31, 2016, the company had about 2,600 employees worldwide (2015: about 2,700).
By creating a new corporate legal structure for the three powder divisions last year, H.C. Starck took an important step toward a solid alignment for the future. The three powder divisions now have independence and flexibility in gearing their individual strategic developments toward the requirements of the different markets. “This represents a new milestone in our nearly one hundred years of history as a company,” explains Dr. Engelbert Heimes, Chairman of the Executive Board of the H.C. Starck Group. “We are looking ahead to the future with confidence. That is true for the independent powder companies and for all other business units. We have laid the necessary structural groundwork for further positive development, and we assume that our core markets will see a sustained recovery in 2017.”

Tungsten Powders Division: high capacity utilization and significantly improved cost structure

The Tungsten Powders Division maintained its strong position on the European market in 2016. The company’s joint ventures in China and Vietnam utilized their full capacity last year and achieved significant gains in productivity and sales. “Our investments in these two locations in Asia have been paying off since last year. This shows that we have taken a successful approach and are on the right track with our international strategy,” says Dr. Jens Knöll, Chairman of the Executive Board of H.C. Starck GmbH. At the same time, the turnaround measures that have been implemented to date have brought significantly lower costs. Consistent further development of recycling activities has delivered further savings on costs and additional stability in a tough market environment that is still marked by a serious imbalance between supply and demand. H.C. Starck’s tungsten powders are used primarily in the production of industrial tools and wearing parts, where they enable high-performance processes such as drilling, turning, and milling of metals on an industrial scale.

Rising profitability in the tantalum/niobium powders business

Despite the stagnation that has set in on the electronics market, the Tantalum/Niobium Powders Division defended its leading position in the major market segments in 2016. To be able to serve rising demand, capacity in Goslar was further expanded. “In these tense market phases in particular, it is important to further optimize our high-tech equipment and systems. The outstanding expertise of our specialists in Goslar and around the world makes a crucial contribution to the high and consistent quality of our products,” Knöll says.
There is further potential for growth due to the increasing connectivity of things through the “Internet of Things” and in other fields, such as “Car-2-Car” communication. In addition, the turnaround measures are achieving the desired effect in the area of tantalum/niobium powders as well with a positive impact on profitability. Subsidiary H.C. Starck Smelting GmbH & Co. KG processes slag and other recycling materials that contain tantalum on a cost-effective basis. This makes H.C. Starck more independent of price fluctuations on the world market and ensures attractive value for the money in the case of high capacitance tantalum powders for the tantalum capacitor market.

Surface Technology & Ceramic Powders Division: stability through broad product spectrum

Sustained efficiency gains have allowed the Surface Technology and Ceramic Powders Division to significantly increase its competitiveness. Having a broad product range and serving customers from a range of different industries, both helped cushion the effects of ongoing weakness in the oil and gas market in other market segments. In the area of high-temperature-resistant coatings for advanced gas turbines and drives in particular, H.C. Starck was able to expand on its market share thanks to leading product quality. A further significant increase in demand is expected over the next few years, especially in the area of 3D printing (additive manufacturing). H.C. Starck plans to meet this demand with its current portfolio and with products that are currently under development. In addition to the growth market in additive manufacturing, there was a heavy focus on the market for aluminum and silicon nitride in 2016.

Fabricated Products: targeted sales initiatives to boost sales in 2017

A rigorous focus on operational improvements allowed the Fabricated Products Division to successfully reduce both costs and tied-up capital. The current year is expected to bring a significant recovery in many areas, and plans also call for extensive sales initiatives geared toward newly defined market segments. The decrease in sales seen in 2016 is therefore set alongside positive growth prospects, especially due to increased customer focus and various promising application technology projects.

Advanced Ceramic Components on track for growth thanks to sales campaign

Alongside the successful restructuring projects that have been launched, the positive development of the business at H.C. Starck Ceramics GmbH is also due to the acquisition of further major contracts. An additional highly innovative mainstay is currently emerging in the form of a new technology for producing components for production equipment in the semiconductor industry.

Additive manufacturing as a market of the future

H.C. Starck is benefiting from ongoing growth in the additive manufacturing segment on a cross-division basis. Numerous applications in fields such as aviation, medicine, automotive technology, and mechanical engineering call for materials of superior, reproducible quality. The metal powders, technology metals, and ceramic powders from H.C. Starck have been proven to meet these requirements outstandingly well in numerous products and applications. “Our company has more than ten years of experience in additive manufacturing. This means for our customers that we are the partner that can help them get ahead and they can rely on – not only for the final product, but also during development and in terms of service,” Knöll says.

About H.C. Starck www.hcstarck.com:

The H.C. Starck Group is an international leading supplier of refractory technology metals and technical ceramics, supplying growth industrial sectors such as the electronics sector, the chemical industry, medical technology, aviation and aerospace, energy and environmental technology, and machine and tool building from its own production locations in Europe, America and Asia. In 2016 the company employed approximately 2.600 people in the USA, Canada, the UK, Germany, China, Japan and Thailand.

H.C. Starck press office, represented by:
PRpetuum GmbH
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80801 Munich, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)89 2444 76 50