Profit generated by the firm’s fine chemicals division – which also produces research chemicals – was up 14 per cent FY12/13 the half year results.
Johnson Matthey did not disclose what drove the growth, but did say that its “Fine chemicals division performed well with sales slightly down but underlying operating profit well ahead driven by good demand for higher margin products."
Earlier this year, the firm hailed a new anti-addiction active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) as a promising prospect after a 15 per cent growth for the division to £62m (€74.8m).
At the time it said: “The API Manufacturing businesses performed well aided by sales of a new API for the treatment of drug addiction,”
However the win for the was overshadowed for the firm, as revenues for its main business – supplying metals such as platinum, used for vehicle catalytic converters – dropped £1bn year-on-year from £5.9bn in 2011.
The firm’s CEO Neil Carson said a drop in precious metal price was to blame. The Financial Times reports a 16 per cent decline in average platinum prices – to $1,500 per ounce – and an 18 per cent drop in palladium, now at just $622 an ounce.
Carson was not hopeful for the near-future of the market, adding: “Whilst precious metal prices have improved from their lows during the summer, largely due to the labour unrest in South Africa, the outlook in some of our other markets has weakened and visibility remains limited.
“We therefore expect that the group's performance in the second half will be similar to the first half of the year.”