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lg energys profit plummets as ev industry falters an in depth look into the battery giants struggles 23

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LG Energy's Profit Plummets as EV Industry Falters: An In-Depth Look into the Battery Giant's Struggles

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Michael Chen

April 5, 2024 - 07:01 am

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Electric Vehicle Slowdown Dents LG Energy Solution's Quarterly Profits

In a startling development underscoring the headwinds faced by the electric vehicle (EV) industry, LG Energy Solution Ltd., a leading battery manufacturer, reported a sharp decline in their operating profit for the initial quarter of the year. This downturn is attributive to the decelerating growth within the EV space, which has subsequently affected both shipments and profitability margins at the battery-producing giant.

LG Energy Solution, a pivotal player in EV battery production and supplier to international automakers such as General Motors Co., Volkswagen AG, and Tesla Inc., declared a discouraging operating profit of 157.3 billion won ($116 million) for the first three months of the year. Notably, this figure falls short of the expectations set by industry analysts. Interestingly, without a significant tax credit introduced by US President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the company's financials would reflect an even bleaker picture—a 31.6 billion won operating loss.

The company disclosed these preliminary earnings results in anticipation of their full report scheduled for later in the month, likely on April 25. The announcement, timed just before the closure of the trading session, resulted in a slight 0.9% dip in LG Energy's shares in Seoul.

LG Energy's Bumpy Ride Amidst EV Market Dynamics

Click here to see more on LG’s latest earnings

Forecasts by BloombergNEF anticipate a 23% growth in the market for EVs this year from 2023, a growth rate that, while positive, lags behind previous years' projections. The impending period appears particularly daunting for battery manufacturers given that these components represent the most significant investment in an EV. Automakers are on a quest to reduce costs, applying direct pressure on the battery sector to follow suit.

The narrative of slowed growth and burgeoning challenges is echoed across the industry. Earlier in the week, Tesla revealed that its quarterly shipments significantly undershot the estimates posed by analysts. The electric automotive pioneer also signaled that its growth trajectory for the current year is expected to be "notably lower." Tesla cited reasons such as hikes in interest rates that potentially dampen consumer enthusiasm.

Similarly, sentiments shared by Renault SA's Chief Executive Officer, Luca de Meo, resonated with this cautious outlook. In February, de Meo described the ongoing year as potentially "tricky" for the EV sector, suggesting a possible recovery in sales by 2025.

The Tax Credit Lifeline

The recent earnings woes of LG Energy Solution serve to highlight the significance of the tax credits afforded by the United States government through the IRA. Despite this lifeline, some analysts cast doubts over the company's financial health. Thus, the fiscal support stands out as a critical factor keeping the firm afloat amidst trying economic conditions.

An April 3 note by Rho Wooho, an analyst at Meritz Securities Co., intimates that without the benefit of US tax credits, LG's earnings trajectory would have underscored "unfavorable fundamentals." The note further speculates that battery shipments to EV makers have been languid since the tail end of the last year. A simultaneous dip in raw materials prices has presumably exerted additional downward pressures on the selling prices of batteries.

Sales and Market Forecasts

LG Energy's reported first-quarter sales tallied up to 6.13 trillion won, a steep reduction of 30% compared to the previous year and lower than the market's anticipation of 6.9 trillion won. This downturn coincides with fluctuating costs of raw materials essential to battery production.

In particular, the price gauge for Chinese lithium carbonate, a crucial component for EV batteries, saw a 6% dip just last week. Notwithstanding, analysts from Daol Investment & Securities Co. have projected a bottoming out of lithium prices in the second quarter, setting the stage for potential recalibration in the near future.

Read More: Lithium Trading Hits Record on CME as Funds Seize Budding Market

Despite the current challenges faced by LG Energy Solution and the wider EV market, the insights provided by market analysts and company reports suggest a convoluted yet hopeful future for the industry. Factors ranging from governmental policy interventions to raw material cost dynamics continue to shape the landscape, with key players adjusting their strategies to navigate through these turbulent times.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

The loss of profit for LG Energy Solution underscores not only the volatility faced within the EV sector but also throws light on the interdependencies that exist between government policies, consumer behavior, and market forces. As manufacturers, analysts and investors keenly observe these developments, the dynamics of the coming quarters will play a crucial role in shaping the future trajectory of the EV battery market.

In conclusion, the latest financial report from LG Energy Solution serves as a stark reminder of the challenges inherent within rapidly evolving technological sectors such as the EV industry. With key automakers striving to infuse sustainability into their offerings while attending to their bottom line, the balancing act between innovation, cost-efficiency, and market demand has never been more pronounced.

As companies like LG Energy Solution navigate through these shifts, the insights gleaned will undoubtedly influence the strategic moves of stakeholders across the EV ecosystem. While the immediate financial picture may seem daunting, the unfolding narrative of the electric vehicle revolution remains one of the most closely watched sagas in the contemporary business landscape.