Focused Growth Makes This Stock a Must-Watch

FMC's (NYS: FMC) estimates-crushing fourth-quarter numbers aren't the only thing about the company that should excite you. The way the chemical maker is expanding all its divisions also deserves attention.

Take a look at FMC's moves and plans, and you'll see that it's aiming at companywide growth.

Getting bigger with agriculture
Herbicides and insecticides currently rule FMC's agricultural products division, which is its largest segment. But the company is also expanding its fungicides business, which contributes around 10% of the division's revenue. FMC recently acquired two fungicides from Bayer CropScience. As these two products are registered in more than 50 countries, FMC can now penetrate deeper into the fungicide market.

Apart from this, FMC is adding more biological products to its portfolio. It has collaborated with two companies -- pesticide provider Marrone Bio Innovations and bioscience company Chr. Hansen -- in the past few months for developing products in Latin America. Commercial sales of both should start this year. FMC's focus on Latin America is understandable, as robust demand from the region pushed its ag division revenue up by 22% in the fourth quarter.

Leveraging lithium
Moving on to specialty chemicals, higher prices of both BioPolymer and lithium have helped the division's revenue grow, rising 9% in the fourth quarter. Along with increasing prices of both the products, FMC is also expanding capacities. The expansion of its BioPolymer facility in Norway is expected to be completed in the first quarter.

FMC also recently entered newer markets such as natural colorants by acquiring Chilean-based company South Pole Biogroup.

What sets FMC apart from most other chemical companies is lithium. The company is expanding capacity at its lithium facility in Argentina by 30% and plans to ramp up further. What's more, FMC now has a golden opportunity to enter Chile, the world's largest lithium supplier, after the country opened doors for more companies to mine lithium. Other lithium producers and FMC's competitors such as Rockwood Holdings (NYS: ROC) and Sociedad Quimica y Minera (NYS: SQM) are already present in Chile. SQM is the world's largest lithium producer and has huge reserves in Chile, while Rockwood is already planning a new plant in the country to double production.

It won't be easy for FMC to compete against these established players, but the road is open for it. With FMC hinting that it is interested in Chile, the high potential for lithium might turn out to be gold for the company. Keep an eye on it, Fools.

Cashing in on soda ash
Higher soda ash prices and volumes pushed FMC's industrial chemicals' revenue up by 14% in the fourth quarter. When it restarted its Granger facility last year, it aimed at ramping up its total soda ash capacity to 500,000 tons by year-end. FMC has met the target and is now operating at full capacity. That's not all: FMC is already conducting feasibility tests to add another 700,000 tons of capacity at the facility, and the final decision is expected to come through sometime this year. FMC is well on its way to become a bigger soda ash player.

The Foolish bottom line
FMC has certainly impressed me with its all-around business development moves. The solid numbers serve as icing on the cake. I suggest you add FMC to your stock watchlist, My Watchlist. It's a free, personalized stock-tracking service from The Motley Fool that will keep you updated on everything that FMC does, and where its future is steering to.

At the time this article was published

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read Full Story