H.C. Starck Expects Sustained Recovery of Core Markets in 2017
By creating a new corporate legal structure for the three powder divisions last year, H.C. Starck reportedly took an important step toward a solid alignment for the future.
H.C. Starck recently announced that it expects to see a sustained recovery of its core markets in the 2017 fiscal year. During fiscal year 2016, sales were believed to be down due to the tough market environment and decreases in the prices of raw materials. With an overall value of €688.4 million (approximately $729.7 million), the annual turnover remained below the previous year’s figure of €815.2 million (~$864.1 million). As of December 31, 2016, the company had about 2,600 employees worldwide (compared to 2,700 in 2015).
By creating a new corporate legal structure for the three powder divisions last year, H.C. Starck reportedly 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,” said Engelbert Heimes, Ph.D., 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.”
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,” said Jens Knöll, Ph.D., chairman of the executive board of H.C. Starck GmbH. “This shows that we have taken a successful approach and are on the right track with our international strategy..
Despite the stagnation that has set in on the electronics market, the Tantalum/Niobium Powders Division expanded capacity in Goslar to be able to serve rising demand. “In these tense market phases in particular, it is important to further optimize our high-tech equipment and systems,” said Knöll. “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.”
Further potential growth is expected 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.
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. 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.
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.
In addition to 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 innovative mainstay is currently emerging in the form of a new technology for producing components for production equipment in the semiconductor industry.
H.C. Starck is reportedly 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, including the metal powders, technology metals, and ceramic powders from H.C. Starck.
“Our company has more than 10 years of experience in additive manufacturing,” said Knöll. “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.”
For more information, visit www.hcstarck.com.