Albemarle’s stock drops to lowest in two years after rating downgrade

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Shares of lithium miner Albemarle Corp. on Wednesday traded at their lowest in more than two years, after being hit by a rating downgrade from analysts at BofA Securities.

The analysts downgraded their rating on the miner’s stock to the equivalent of sell, from hold, and lowered their price target on the stock to $161, from $212.

The new price target represents an upside of about 4% over Wednesday’s share price.

shares dropped nearly 10%, ending at their lowest close since May 6, 2021, when they closed at $152.85. The stock was the worst performer on the S&P 500 index

Albemarle’s “growth plans likely to require upwards of [$2 billion] in debt financing over the next two years to bring to fruition,” the analysts said in a note.

This would be an additional drag on earnings, and “drives further downward revisions to the company’s valuation vs. a peer such as [Livent Corp.
], who should be able to manage their growth plans with minimal external financing,” they said.

The analysts kept their buy rating on Livent’s stock.

“It is not that we see [Albemarle] shares as having material downside from here (though this could happen should our price forecast turn out to be optimistic), but we see better opportunities in our companies where earnings have moved through trough and are closer to an inflection,” they said.

Albemarle shares are down about 30% so far this year, on pace for their worst year since 2018. The drop contrasts with gains of around 14% for the S&P 500.

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