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Tuesday Ticker: April 27, 2021

Toronto, Ontario ⁠— In this week’s Tuesday Ticker, PPG scores a consecutive Gold Rating in business sustainability, AkzoNobel reports growth for 2021’s first quarter and auto parts supplier Martinrea teams up for a joint battery research venture.

Seal of sustainability

PPG has announced that it has once again achieved a Gold Rating in corporate social responsibility from EcoVadis, a provider of business sustainability ratings. 

Only six percent of evaluated companies met the qualifications for a Gold Rating. PPG said it earned high scores for its environmental and ethical practices. 

The company also recently committed to assessing 1,000 key suppliers on EcoVadis’ four sustainability categories, which contributed to a 20-point increase in PPG’s sustainable procurement score, compared to its 2019 score.

EcoVadis experts evaluate company performance on 21 factors grouped into four categories: environment, labour and human rights, ethics and sustainable procurement. Each company is assessed in these areas based on size, location and industry.

The rating methodology is based on international sustainability standards and initiatives, such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards, United Nations Global Compact and ISO 26000 standard (social responsibility).

Unexpected gains

AkzoNobel has unveiled its 2021 Q1 financial results, where the Netherlands-based coatings company said its revenue was up 10 percent and 16 percent growth overall.

In a Wednesday press release, AkzoNobel said its first-quarter core profit jumped 43 percent to 307 million euros ($369.2 million) as economic recovery boosted demand, especially in Asia.

Market analysts polled by the company had expected adjusted operating income to increase to 275 million euros following a 214 million euros result from the year prior.

Sales improved 10 percent to 2.26 billion euros in the January-March period, easily beating the average analyst projection of a three percent rise.

“We delivered very strong results for the quarter,” Chief Executive Officer Thierry Vanlancker said in a statement. “

Vanlancker said ongoing challenges for the company mainly persist in relation to raw materials⁠—an industry-wide issue. 

“I’m very proud of how our teams continue to serve our customers while dealing with significant disruption. Going forward, we’ll remain focused on offsetting higher raw material costs with pricing initiatives and cost discipline, to ride out the wave and build on our strong foundation for growth,” he said.

Martinrea in Montreal

Canadian auto parts supplier Martinrea International has entered a joint venture with NanoXplore, a Montreal, Quebec-based graphene company, to develop graphene-enhanced vehicle batteries designed to reduce charging times and increase EV range.

“Graphene will be a differentiator by improving charge time and vehicle distance, ultimately bringing solid-state battery technology to the market sooner,” Martinrea CEO Pat D’Eramo said in a statement. “Combining our advanced lightweight technologies with graphene-enhanced batteries is a big step forward in the EV space.”

NanoXplore and Martinrea will each invest $4 million into the venture⁠—titled VoltaXplore Inc. —to build a facility in Montreal where the companies plan to demonstrate the value of using graphene in lithium-ion batteries. Should the demo facility fulfill its mission, VoltaXplore aims to build a battery production plant in Canada.

“Graphene is a really exciting material for improved performance in [lithium ion] batteries,” said NanoXplore CEO Soroush Nazarpour, who will also serve as the chief executive of the joint venture. “It increases the charging speed and capacity of the batteries while improving safety by enabling batteries to work at lower temperatures.”

The JV builds on the relationship between NanoXplore and Martinrea, the third-largest Canada-based auto supplier by annual sales to automakers and a major shareholder of NanoXplore.

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