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Why Standard Lithium Stock Jumped on Tuesday

What happened

Shares of Standard Lithium (NYSEMKT: SLI) are on a roller-coaster ride. After dropping sharply on Monday, the lithium stock rebounded today to gain as much as 9.9% as of 3:20 p.m. EDT. A rival stock received a strong analyst upgrade today, reigniting investor interest in Standard Lithium shares.

So what

On Oct. 19, RBC Capital upgraded its rating on Albemarle (NYSE: ALB) stock with a price target of $280 a share, up from $246 per share. Analyst Arun Viswanathan believes Albemarle's global footprint and low cost positions it well to benefit from "accelerating production growth of electric vehicles" even as 5G connectivity and travel returns help the company's bromine specialties and catalysts segments recover. Analysts at Citi and Loop Capital also raised their price targets on Albemarle shares this month.

Albemarle is among the world's lithium companies and was, in fact, the world's largest supplier of battery-grade lithium for electric vehicles last year. In 2020, lithium brought in 40%, bromine specialties 35%, and catalysts 25% of the company's total sales. Albemarle's bromine business specializes in fire safety products while its catalysts segment offers products and services primarily for the oil refining industry.

Image source: Getty Images.

The biggest growth catalyst for Albemarle, though, is its lithium business: It projects sales from the segment to grow at a compound annual rate of 24% to 28% through 2026 as rising EV adoption lifts demand for lithium-ion batteries that power EVs.

The global EV market is, indeed, growing at a torrid pace, with the International Energy Agency reporting 43% growth in electric cars in 2020 even as the COVID-19 pandemic hit sales of conventional cars.

Just yesterday, Toyota Motors and Stellantis announced big investments into EVs and batteries, confirming how nearly every auto maker is scrambling to join the EV race.

If growth in the EV market should benefit Albemarle as many analysts believe, investors in Standard Lithium don't see a reason why it shouldn't benefit the young lithium company as well.

Unlike Albemarle, Standard Lithium isn't a miner with lithium or bromine deposits, but it uses a technology called LiSTR to directly extract lithium from brine, and is currently testing the process in collaboration with a couple of companies and building its first brine-to-lithium plant. Just days ago, Standard Lithium reported promising preliminary assessment results for a project.

Now what

Standard Lithium is more of a speculative stock right now. Granted, the company is in a red-hot line of business with exponential growth potential, but until it starts production and proves the viability of its brine-to-lithium technology, the small-cap stock could remain volatile and see wild price swings, just like the ones we witnessed between yesterday and today.

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Citigroup is an advertising partner of The Ascent, a Motley Fool company. Neha Chamaria has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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