* Sees Asia leading higher demand
* Also looking to pharmaceutical ingredients, batteries
* Profit up 18 pct, revenue up 12 pct
(Updates with CFO, detail)
By Barbara Lewis
LONDON, June 1 Johnson Matthey expects
increased efforts to curb vehicle pollution to boost demand for
its catalysts in the medium to long term, it said on Thursday,
after reporting an 18 percent rise in annual operating profit
and boosting its dividend.
The British company, which this year divided into four
sectors -- clean air, efficient natural resources, health and
new markets -- said sales of catalysts rose 16 percent in the
year to March 31.
It said the quest for cleaner air, with many cities clamping
down on transport pollution, would spur demand for catalysts,
while it is also increasing its focus on batteries using nickel
and lithium and on pharmaceutical ingredients.
"Over a five-year period that market (catalysts) is going to
grow almost irrespective of electric vehicles given the size of
the base," Johnson Matthey Chief Financial Officer Anna Manz
told Reuters, referring to the still small percentage of the
market that has gone electric.
"After that, it’s harder to predict."
The company is also re-focusing to ensure it is strong in
technologies for gasoline and diesel vehicles and in the Asian
market, which is catching up with European pollution standards,
Doubts about diesel cars have grown as Volkswagen's
dieselgate scandal has spread to other automakers and research
has shown the health damage caused by diesel emissions.
Some analysts are also predicting a quicker-than-expected
uptake in electric vehicles, which do not use catalytic
The company reported an 18 percent rise in annual operating
profit to 493 million pounds ($634 million) on revenue up 12
percent at 12.03 billion.
It recommended a final dividend of 54.5 pence per share, up
It said sales this year would be probably in line with the 6
percent growth delivered in the six months to March 31.
Shares in Johnson Matthey were down 0.6 percent at 3,091
pence, lagging an FTSE-100 Index up 0.29 percent at 0945
"Today’s results do not flag any immediate problems.
Nonetheless, guidance still implies at least no upgrade
potential," analysts at Morgan Stanley said in a note.
It rates Johnson Matthey "equal weight" or hold citing "a
lack of near-term earnings impetus".
($1 = 0.7782 pounds)
(Additional reporting by Justin George Varghese; editing by
Alexander Smith and Jason Neely)