Emerging Markets: Company to Watch: Anglo Platinum/South Africa

Auto Sales Revival Puts New Shine On Platinum


South Africa-based Anglo Platinum, the world’s largest primary producer of platinum, retrenched in 2009 after demand for the metal used in catalytic converters suffered from decreasing consumption by the auto industry.

The price of the metal rebounded to above $1,400 an ounce in December from below $800 in late 2008, bolstered by the weak dollar and recovering demand.

Meanwhile, Anglo Platinum is confident that platinum and other platinumgroup metals have a bright long-term future, with the potential commercialization of fuel cells for cleaner production of electricity. The company opened a demonstration fuel-cell plant last July that converts methane into hydrogen using a rhodium catalyst.

Prices of platinum-group metals have recovered because of tight supply and growing investment demand, analysts say. Approximately half of all platinum and palladium produced each year is used by the auto industry. Platinum jewelry demand, especially from China, rose sharply in response to the lower prices last year.

A sustained global economic recovery and rising auto sales in China and India, as well as the possibility of more stringent auto-emission standards, could boost the platinum market this year, analysts say. Londonbased Johnson Matthey says the platinum market could move into a modest supply deficit in 2010.

Anglo Platinum’s shares are listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange, with a secondary listing on the London Stock Exchange. Its global depositary receipts trade on the Brussels Bourse.