It’s a slow-moving market that rarely makes headlines, to be sure, but there’s no denying that titanium is among today’s best-performing metals, observes Clif Droke, resource sector expert and editor of Cabot SX Gold & Metals Advisor.

Indeed, the metal widely used in the aerospace industry is up 85% year to date. And with the war between Ukraine and Russia dragging on, the heavy demand for titanium on the part of aircraft makers and defense contractors is likely to persist in the foreseeable future.

But titanium’s story is more than just a military-related metal. Demand for titanium dioxide pigments is especially high right now in the automotive industry. The global market for these pigments is forecast to increase 42% in the next six years, largely due to auto industry demand.

In the meantime, benchmark titanium prices have remained flat since May and aren’t likely to show any meaningful volatility anytime soon. Nonetheless, prices are much closer to their all-time highs (currently 35% below) than their 2020 low. And if the war in Ukraine persists, there’s good reason to believe wartime material demand for the metal will push prices higher eventually.

Valhi (VHI) is a leader in the titanium industry. The company has operations through majority-owned subsidiaries or less than majority-owned affiliates operating in several industries, including component products (security products, furniture components and performance marine components) and titanium metals products.

But its biggest segment by sales is titanium dioxide pigments, which are used in the automotive and construction industries, as well as in plastic and printing inks.

On the financial front, Valhi posted revenue of $629 million in Q1, up 24% from a year ago, led by higher titanium oxide selling prices and volumes in its chemical segment. Per-share earnings of $1.59, meanwhile, beat estimates by 34 cents. When the company reports Q2 earnings on August 11, analysts expect EPS to grow 170% from a year ago and more than 25% sequentially.

In view of VHI’s strong relative performance in the last few weeks, we purchased a conservative position in this stock using an initial stop-loss slightly under $41.60 (closing basis).

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