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UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

Form 10-K

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2020

or

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from                to

Commission File Number 1-5667

Cabot Corporation

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its Charter)

 

Delaware

04-2271897

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

 

 

Two Seaport Lane, Suite 1400

 

Boston, Massachusetts

02210

(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

(Zip Code)

 

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (617) 345-0100

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934:

Title of each class

Trading symbol(s)

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, $1 par value per share

CBT

The New York Stock Exchange

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934: None.

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.

Yes  No  

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.

Yes  No  

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.Yes  No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).Yes  No  

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer”, “smaller reporting company”, and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

Accelerated filer

 

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer

☐  

Smaller reporting company

 

 

Emerging growth company

If an emerging growth company, indicate by checkmark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).

Yes  No  

As of the last business day of the Registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter (March 31, 2020), the aggregate market value of the Registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates was $1,467,794,829. As of November 20, 2020, there were 56,600,026 shares of the Registrant’s common stock outstanding.

Portions of the Registrant’s definitive proxy statement for its 2021 Annual Meeting of Shareholders are incorporated by reference into Part III of this report.

 

 


TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

PART I

 

 

 

ITEM 1.

Business

3

 

 

 

ITEM 1A.

Risk Factors

11

 

 

 

ITEM 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

17

 

 

 

ITEM 2.

Properties

18

 

 

 

ITEM 3.

Legal Proceedings

20

 

 

 

ITEM 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

20

 

PART II

 

 

 

ITEM 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

21

 

 

 

ITEM 6.

Selected Financial Data

22

 

 

 

ITEM 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

26

 

 

 

ITEM 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

41

 

 

 

ITEM 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

43

 

 

 

ITEM 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

95

 

 

 

ITEM 9A.

Controls and Procedures

95

 

 

 

ITEM 9B.

Other Information

95

 

PART III

 

 

 

ITEM 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

96

 

 

 

ITEM 11.

Executive Compensation

96

 

 

 

ITEM 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

96

 

 

 

ITEM 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

96

 

 

 

ITEM 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

96

 

PART IV

 

 

 

ITEM 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

96

 

 

 

ITEM 16.

Form 10-K Summary

99

 

 

Signatures

100

 

2


Information Relating to Forward-Looking Statements

This annual report on Form 10-K contains “forward-looking statements” under the Federal securities laws. These forward-looking statements address expectations or projections about the future, including our expectations regarding our future business performance and overall prospects; segment growth and the assumptions underlying our growth expectations; demand for our products; evaluation of strategic options for our Purification Solutions segment; the recommencing of work on our Cilegon, Indonesia plant expansion; when we expect production of specialty carbons to begin at our new facility in Jiangsu Province, China; the earnings benefit due to restructuring activities at our Marshall manufacturing facility and the timing of payments for costs associated with mine closure activities; the sufficiency of our cash on hand, cash provided from operations and cash available under our credit and commercial paper facilities to fund our cash requirements; anticipated capital spending, including environmental-related capital expenditures; restructuring and transformation plan charges; cash requirements and uses of available cash, including future cash outlays associated with long-term contractual obligations, restructurings, contributions to employee benefit plans, environmental remediation costs and future respirator liabilities; exposure to interest rate and foreign exchange risk; future benefit plan payments we expect to make; future amortization expenses; the amount and timing of the loss we expect to recognize upon the settlement of liabilities under our U.S. pension plan; the impact we expect tax reform legislation in the U.S. to have on our future after-tax earnings and tax rate; our ability to recover deferred tax assets; and the possible outcome of legal and environmental proceedings, and value-added tax matters. From time to time, we also provide forward-looking statements in other materials we release to the public and in oral statements made by authorized officers.

Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to risks, uncertainties, potentially inaccurate assumptions, and other factors, some of which are beyond our control or difficult to predict. If known or unknown risks materialize, our actual results could differ materially from past results and from those expressed in the forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed in our forward-looking statements are described in Item 1A in this report.

We undertake no obligation to publicly update forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law. Investors are advised, however, to consult any further disclosures we make on related subjects in our 10-Q and 8-K reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”).

 

PART I

Item 1.

Business

General

Cabot is a global specialty chemicals and performance materials company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Our principal products are rubber and specialty grade carbon blacks, specialty compounds, fumed metal oxides, activated carbons, inkjet colorants, and aerogel. Cabot and its affiliates have manufacturing facilities and operations in the United States (“U.S.”) and over 20 other countries. Cabot’s business was founded in 1882 and incorporated in the State of Delaware in 1960. The terms “Cabot”, “Company”, “we”, and “our” as used in this report refer to Cabot Corporation and its consolidated subsidiaries.

Our vision is to be the most innovative, respected and responsible leader in our markets – delivering performance that makes a difference. Our “advancing the core” corporate strategy is to extend our leadership in performance materials by investing for growth in our core businesses, driving application innovation with our customers, and generating strong cash flows through efficiency and optimization. Our products are generally based on technical expertise and innovation in one or more of our four core competencies: making and handling very fine particles; modifying the surfaces of very fine particles to alter their functionality; designing particles to impart specific properties to a formulation; and combining particles with other ingredients to deliver a formulated performance intermediate or composite. We focus on creating particles, and formulations of those particles, with the composition, morphology, and surface functionalities to deliver the requisite performance to support our customers’ existing and emerging applications.

Our business is organized into three reportable segments: Reinforcement Materials; Performance Chemicals; and Purification Solutions. We divested our Specialty Fluids business as of June 28, 2019. We routinely evaluate our portfolio in light of our growth strategy and will continue to evaluate strategic options for our Purification Solutions segment. Our business segments are discussed in more detail later in this section.

Our internet address is www.cabotcorp.com. We make available free of charge on or through our website our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 as soon as reasonably practicable after electronically filing such material with, or furnishing it to, the SEC. Information appearing on our website is not a part of, and is not incorporated in, this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

3


Reinforcement Materials

Products

Carbon black is a form of elemental carbon that is manufactured in a highly controlled process to produce particles and aggregates of varied structure and surface chemistry, resulting in many different performance characteristics for a wide variety of applications. Rubber grade carbon blacks are used to enhance the physical properties of the systems and applications in which they are incorporated.

Our rubber blacks products are used in tires and industrial products. Rubber blacks have traditionally been used in the tire industry as a rubber reinforcing agent to increase tread durability and are also used as a performance additive to reduce rolling resistance and improve traction. In industrial products such as hoses, belts, extruded profiles and molded goods, rubber blacks are used to improve the physical performance of the product, including the product’s physical strength, fluid resistance, conductivity and resistivity.

In addition to our rubber blacks products, we manufacture engineered elastomer composites (“E2C™”) solutions that are compounds of carbon black and rubber made using our patented elastomer composites manufacturing process. These compounds improve abrasion/wear resistance, reduce fatigue of rubber parts and reduce rolling resistance compared to carbon black/rubber compounds made by conventional dry mix methods enabling rubber compounders to break (or, reduce the need to make) performance trade-offs. Additionally, because E2C™ solutions can be integrated into current product methods without additional significant capital investment, and require fewer mixing stages, lower mixing temperatures and shorter mixing cycles than conventional products, operating and production costs may be reduced.

Sales and Customers

Sales of rubber blacks products are made by Cabot employees and through distributors and sales representatives. Sales to six major tire customers represent a material portion of Reinforcement Materials’ total net sales and operating revenues. The loss of any of these customers, or a significant reduction in volumes sold to them, could have a material adverse effect on the segment.

Under appropriate circumstances, we have entered into supply arrangements with certain customers, the typical duration of which is one year. These arrangements typically provide for sales price adjustments to account for changes in relevant feedstock indices and, in some cases, changes in other relevant costs (such as the cost of natural gas). In fiscal 2020, approximately half of our rubber blacks volume was sold under these supply arrangements. The majority of the volumes sold under these arrangements are sold to customers in the Americas and Europe.

We licensed our patented elastomer composites manufacturing process to Manufacture Francaise des Pneumatiques Michelin for their exclusive use in tire applications through fiscal 2017, and for a period of limited exclusivity in tire applications through fiscal 2019. As consideration, we receive quarterly royalty payments extending through calendar year 2022.

Much of the rubber blacks we sell is used in tires and automotive products and, therefore, our financial results may be affected by the cyclical nature of the automotive industry. However, a large portion of the market for our products is in replacement tires that historically have been less subject to automotive industry cycles.

Competition

We are one of the leading manufacturers of carbon black in the world. We compete in the sale of carbon black with four companies that operate globally and numerous other companies that operate regionally, a number of which export product outside their region. Competition for our Reinforcement Materials products is based on product performance, quality, reliability, price, service, technical innovation, and logistics. We believe our product differentiation, technological leadership, global manufacturing presence, operations and logistics excellence and customer service provide us with a competitive advantage.

Raw Materials

The principal raw material used in the manufacture of carbon black is composed of residual heavy oils derived from petroleum refining operations, the distillation of coal tars, and the production of ethylene throughout the world. Natural gas is also used in the production of carbon black. Raw materials are, in general, readily available and in adequate supply. Raw material costs generally are influenced by the availability of various types of carbon black feedstock and natural gas, supply and demand of such raw materials and related transportation costs.

4


Operations

We own, or have a controlling interest in, and operate plants that produce rubber blacks in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands and the U.S. An equity affiliate operates a carbon black plant in Venezuela. In addition, we have a 98% ownership interest in an entity that manufactures our E2C™ products in Port Dickson, Malaysia.

The following table shows our ownership interest as of September 30, 2020 in rubber blacks operations in which we own less than 100%:

 

Location

 

Percentage Interest

Shanghai, China

 

70% (consolidated subsidiary)

Tianjin, China

 

70% (consolidated subsidiary)

Xingtai City, China

 

60% (consolidated subsidiary)

Valasske Mezirici (Valmez), Czech Republic

 

52% (consolidated subsidiary)

Cilegon, Indonesia

 

98% (consolidated subsidiary)

Valencia, Venezuela

 

49% (equity affiliate)

 

During fiscal 2019, we began engineering work on an expansion of our Cilegon, Indonesia plant, which will add approximately 90,000 metric tons of capacity to our network. In fiscal 2020, after a review of our capital allocation priorities, we temporarily suspended further work on this expansion and currently expect to recommence work on this project at a later time.

Performance Chemicals

Our Performance Chemicals reporting segment is organized into two businesses: our Performance Additives business and our Formulated Solutions business. Our Performance Additives business combines our specialty grades of carbon black, fumed metal oxides and aerogel product lines, and our Formulated Solutions business combines our specialty compounds and inkjet product lines.

In Performance Chemicals, we design, manufacture and sell materials that deliver performance in a broad range of customer applications across the automotive, construction, infrastructure, inkjet printing, electronics, and consumer products sectors and in applications related to the generation, transmission and storage of energy. Our focus areas for growth include carbon additives and other materials for battery applications, inkjet inks and dispersions for post print corrugated packaging applications, and conductive compounds for various plastics applications. The investments we have made for growth in this segment, including in respect of these specific areas of focus, are described below under the heading “Operations”.

Products

Performance Additives Business

Carbon black is a form of elemental carbon that is manufactured in a highly controlled process to produce particles and aggregates of varied structure and surface chemistry, resulting in many different performance characteristics for a wide variety of applications.

Our specialty grades of carbon black are used to impart color, provide rheology control, enhance conductivity and static charge control, provide UV protection, enhance mechanical properties, and provide formulation flexibility through surface treatment. These specialty carbon products are used in a wide variety of applications, such as inks, coatings, plastics, adhesives, toners, batteries, and displays.

Fumed silica is an ultra-fine, high-purity particle used as a reinforcing, thickening, abrasive, thixotropic, suspending or anti-caking agent in a wide variety of products for the automotive, construction, microelectronics, batteries, and consumer products industries. These products include adhesives, sealants, cosmetics, batteries, inks, toners, silicone elastomers, coatings, polishing slurries and pharmaceuticals. Fumed alumina, also an ultra-fine, high-purity particle, is used as an abrasive, absorbent or barrier agent in a variety of products, such as inkjet media, lighting, coatings, cosmetics and polishing slurries.

Aerogel is a hydrophobic, silica-based particle with a high surface area that is used in a variety of thermal insulation and specialty chemical applications. In the building and construction industry, the product is used in insulative sprayable plasters and composite building products, as well as translucent skylight, window, wall and roof systems for insulating eco-daylighting applications. In the specialty chemicals industry, the product is used to provide matte finishing, insulating and thickening properties for use in a variety of applications.

5


Formulated Solutions Business

Our masterbatch and conductive compound products, which we refer to as “specialty compounds”, are formulations derived from specialty grades of carbon black mixed with polymers and other additives. These products are generally used by plastic resin producers and converters in applications for the automotive, industrial, packaging, infrastructure, agriculture, consumer products, and electronics industries. As an alternative to directly mixing specialty carbon blacks, these formulations offer greater ease of handling and help customers achieve their desired levels of dispersion and color and manage the addition of small doses of additives. In addition, our electrically conductive compound products generally are used to help ensure uniform conductive performance and reduce risks associated with electrostatic discharge in plastics applications.

Our inkjet colorants are high-quality pigment-based black and color dispersions based on our patented carbon black surface modification technology. The dispersions are used in aqueous inkjet inks to impart color, sharp print characteristics and durability, while maintaining high printhead reliability. These products are used in various inkjet printing applications, including commercial printing, small office/home office and corporate office, that all require a high level of dispersibility and colloidal stability. Our inkjet inks, which utilize our pigment-based colorant dispersions, are used in the commercial printing segment for digital print.

Sales and Customers

Sales of these products are made by Cabot employees and through distributors and sales representatives. In our specialty carbons and specialty compounds product lines, sales are generally to a broad number of customers. In our fumed metal oxides product line, sales under contracts with two customers have accounted for a substantial portion of the revenue.

Competition

We are a leading producer of the products we sell in this segment. We compete in the sale of carbon black with four companies that operate globally and numerous other companies that operate regionally, a number of which export product outside their region. For battery applications, we produce conductive carbon and carbon nanotubes for both lithium ion and lead acid batteries, and compete primarily with regional Asia-based companies. For fumed silica, we compete primarily with two companies with a global presence and several other companies which have a regional presence. For aerogel, we compete principally with one other company that produces aerogel products. We also compete with non-aerogel insulation products manufactured by regional companies throughout the world. For specialty compounds, we compete with many regional companies and a small number of global companies. Our inkjet colorants and inks are designed to replace traditional pigment dispersions and dyes used in inkjet printing applications. Competitive products for inkjet colorants are organic dyes and other dispersed pigments manufactured and marketed by large chemical companies and small independent producers.

Competition for our Performance Chemicals products is based on product performance, quality, reliability, service, technical innovation and price. We believe our product differentiation, technological leadership, operations excellence and customer service provide us with a competitive advantage.

Raw Materials

Raw materials for our products are, in general, readily available and in adequate supply. The principal raw material used in the manufacture of carbon black is composed of residual heavy oils derived from petroleum refining operations, the distillation of coal tars, and the production of ethylene throughout the world. Natural gas is also used in the production of carbon black. These raw material costs generally are influenced by the availability of various types of carbon black feedstock and natural gas, supply and demand of such raw materials and related transportation costs. Changes in certain of our raw material supplier’s operating conditions could reduce the availability of certain very specialized feedstocks.

Raw materials for the production of fumed silica are various chlorosilane feedstocks. We purchase feedstocks and for certain customers convert their feedstock to product on a fee-basis (so called “toll conversion”). We also purchase aluminum chloride as feedstock for the production of fumed alumina. We have long-term procurement contracts or arrangements in place for the purchase of fumed silica feedstock primarily from fence-line partners, which we believe will enable us to meet our raw material requirements for the foreseeable future. In addition, we buy some raw materials in the spot market to help ensure flexibility and minimize costs. The principal raw materials for the production of aerogel are silica sol and/or sodium silicate.

The primary raw materials used for our specialty compounds include carbon black, primarily sourced from our carbon black plants, prime and recycled thermoplastic resins and mineral fillers supplied from various sources. Raw materials for inkjet colorants include carbon black sourced from our carbon black plants, organic pigments and other treating agents available from various sources. Raw materials for inkjet inks include pigment dispersions, solvents and other additives.

6


Operations

We own, or have a controlling interest in, and operate plants that produce specialty grades of carbon black primarily in China, the Netherlands and the U.S. We also own, or have a controlling interest in, manufacturing plants that produce fumed metal oxides in China, Germany, the United Kingdom (“U.K”), and the U.S. and a manufacturing plant that produces aerogel in Frankfurt, Germany. An equity affiliate operates a fumed metal oxides plant in India. Our specialty compounds are predominately produced in facilities that we own, or have a controlling interest in, located in Belgium, Canada, China and the United Arab Emirates. Our inkjet colorants and inks are manufactured at our facility in the U.S.

The following table shows our ownership interest as of September 30, 2020 in these segment operations in which we own less than 100%:

 

Location

 

Percentage Interest

Tianjin, China

 

90% (consolidated subsidiary)

Jiangxi Province, China

Wuhai, China

 

90% (consolidated subsidiary)

80% (consolidated subsidiary)

Mettur Dam, India

 

50% (equity affiliate)

 

We are investing for growth in our core businesses with a number of capacity expansion projects and other transactions. In September 2018, we acquired NSCC Carbon (Jiangsu) Co., Ltd. from Nippon Steel Carbon Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Nippon Steel Chemical & Material Co., Ltd., adding to our portfolio a 50,000-metric ton facility in Pizhou, Jiangsu Province, China. We have begun modifying this facility to produce specialty carbons, and expect production to begin in fiscal 2022. In addition, during fiscal 2018, we purchased Tech Blend, a leading North American producer of black masterbatches, extending our geographic footprint in black masterbatch and compounds. The acquisition added a manufacturing facility in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec, Canada to our manufacturing network. In June 2019, we acquired certain intangible assets from a leading masterbatch producer in Asia, which extended our global footprint in black masterbatch.

We also continue to expand our fumed silica manufacturing capacity, with new plants in Wuhai, China and Carrollton, Kentucky, U.S. In fiscal 2019, we completed construction and began operations at our facility in Wuhai, and in August 2020 we completed construction and began operations at our facility in Carrollton, which is adjacent to DowDuPont’s existing silicone monomer plant.

To strengthen our formulations capabilities for batteries, in April 2020, we acquired carbon nano-tube producer Shenzhen Sanshun Nano New Materials Co., Ltd. This acquisition added a manufacturing facility in Zhuhai, China to our manufacturing network.

Purification Solutions

Products

Activated carbon is a porous material consisting mainly of elemental carbon treated with heat, steam and/or chemicals to create high internal porosity, resulting in a large internal surface area that resembles a sponge. It is generally produced in two forms, powdered and granular, and is manufactured in different sizes, shapes and levels of purity and using a variety of raw materials for a wide variety of applications. Activated carbon is used to remove contaminants from liquids and gases using a process called adsorption, whereby the interconnected pores of activated carbon trap contaminants.

Our activated carbon products are used for the purification of water, air, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals and other liquids and gases, as either a colorant or a decolorizing agent in the manufacture of products for food and beverage applications and as a chemical carrier in slow release applications. In gas and air applications, one of the uses of activated carbon is for the removal of mercury in flue gas streams. In certain applications, used activated carbon can be reactivated for further use by removing the contaminants from the pores of the activated carbon product. The most common applications for our reactivated carbon are water treatment and food and beverage purification. In addition to our activated carbon production and reactivation, we also provide activated carbon solutions through on-site equipment and services, including delivery systems for activated carbon injection in coal-fired utilities, mobile water filter units and carbon reactivation services.

Sales and Customers

Sales of activated carbon are made by Cabot employees and through distributors and sales representatives to a broad range of customers, including coal-fired utilities, food and beverage processors, water treatment plants, pharmaceutical companies and catalyst producers. Some of our sales of activated carbon are made under annual contracts or longer-term agreements, particularly in mercury removal applications.

7


Competition

We are one of the leading manufacturers of activated carbon in the world. We compete in the manufacture of activated carbon with a number of companies, some of which have a global presence and others that have a regional or local presence, although not all of these companies manufacture activated carbon for the range of applications for which we sell our products.

Competition for activated carbon and activated carbon equipment and services is based on quality, price, performance, and supply-chain stability. We believe our commercial strengths include our product and application diversity, product differentiation, technological leadership, and quality.

Raw Materials

The principal raw materials we use in the manufacture of activated carbon are various forms of coal, including lignite, wood and other carbonaceous materials, which are, in general, readily available and we believe we have in adequate supply. With respect to our operations in North America, we owned a lignite mine that was operated by Caddo Creek Resources Company, LLC, a subsidiary of the North American Coal Company, and which supplied our Marshall, Texas facility (the “Marshall Facility”). On September 30, 2020, we sold our interest in the mine to ADA Carbon Solutions (Operations) LLC, a subsidiary of Advanced Emissions Solutions, Inc. (“ADES”), and entered into a long-term supply agreement with ADA Carbon Solutions (Red River), LLC, a subsidiary of ADES, under which it will manufacture and supply our proprietary portfolio of lignite-based activated carbon products exclusively to us. As a result of these actions, effective September 30, 2020, we ceased manufacturing lignite-based activated carbon at our Marshall Facility and idled our activation kilns at that facility.

Operations

We own, or have a controlling interest in, and operate plants that produce activated carbon in Italy, the Netherlands, the U.K. and the U.S. As described above, as of September 30, 2020, we ceased manufacturing operations at our Marshall Facility. We will continue certain operational activities, including washing of activated carbon, as well as packaging and warehousing operations at the Marshall Facility. We also have joint venture interests in activated carbon plants in Canada and Mexico, and a reactivation plant in Singapore. The following table shows our ownership interest as of September 30, 2020 in activated carbon operations in which we own less than 100%:

 

Location

 

Percentage Interest

Estevan, Saskatchewan, Canada

 

50% (contractual joint venture)

Atitalaquia, Hidalgo, Mexico

Republic of Singapore

 

49% (equity affiliate)

35% (equity affiliate)

 

Patents and Trademarks

We own and are a licensee of various patents, which expire at different times, covering many of our products as well as processes and product uses. Although the products made and sold under these patents and licenses are important to Cabot, the loss of any particular patent or license would not materially affect our business, taken as a whole. We sell our products under a variety of trademarks we own and take reasonable measures to protect them. While our trademarks are important to Cabot, the loss of any one of our trademarks would not materially affect our business, taken as a whole.

Seasonality

Our businesses are generally not seasonal in nature, although we may experience some regional seasonal declines during holiday periods and some weather-related seasonality in Purification Solutions.

Human Capital Resources

As of September 30, 2020, we had approximately 4,500 employees. Our Management Executive Committee (“ExCo”) is comprised of our CEO and his nine direct reports who, collectively, have management responsibility for our businesses, financial, legal, safety, health and environment, human resources, research and development, global business services, and digital functions, and our regional operations.

Our management team places significant focus and attention on matters concerning the Company’s human capital assets – particularly its diversity, capability development, and succession planning.  Accordingly, we regularly review talent development and succession plans for each of our functions and operating segments, to identify and develop a pipeline of talent to maintain business operations. As well, we included goals concerning employee retention, diversity and development in our 2025 Sustainability Goals. Specifically, these goals are to:

 

foster an environment where employees report high levels of inclusion and support for their professional development; and

increase diverse representation in leadership and professional roles.

8


With respect to diverse representation, presently three of the ten members of our management ExCo are women, and across our broader management and professional population 25% are women.

Cabot has a globally distributed workforce, with 40% of its employees in the Americas (65% of which are in the United States), 31% in EMEA, and 29% in Asia Pacific (74% of which are in China). Of our global employee base, 42% are employed in manufacturing roles.  We have numerous programs to attract and retain our talent, including leadership and executive development programs as well as technical and other training. We also have a well-established performance management and talent development process in which managers provide regular feedback and coaching to develop employees. Some of our employees in the U.S. and abroad are covered by collective bargaining or similar agreements.  We believe that our relations with our employees are generally satisfactory.

Safety, Health, Environment, and Sustainability

Our ongoing operations are subject to extensive federal, state, local, and foreign laws, regulations, rules, and ordinances relating to safety, health, and environmental matters (“SH&E Requirements”). In recognition of the importance of compliance with SH&E Requirements to Cabot, our Board of Directors has a Safety, Health, Environment, and Sustainability Committee. The Committee, which is comprised of independent directors, meets regularly and oversees our safety, health, and environmental performance, process safety, security, product stewardship, community engagement and governmental affairs. In particular, the Committee reviews metrics, audit results, emerging trends, overall performance, risks and opportunity assessments and management processes related to our safety, health, environmental and sustainability program.

The SH&E Requirements to which our operations are subject include requirements to obtain and comply with various environmental-related permits for constructing any new facilities and operating all of our existing facilities and for product registrations. We have expended and will continue to expend considerable resources to construct, maintain, operate, and improve our facilities throughout the world for safety, health and environmental protection and to comply with SH&E Requirements. We spent $21 million in environmental-related capital expenditures in fiscal 2020, which was lower than the amount we expected to spend in the year, due primarily to timing adjustments on project related spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We anticipate spending approximately $52 million for such matters in fiscal 2021, a significant portion of which will continue to be for the installation of air pollution control equipment and wastewater infrastructure improvements at certain of our plants. These costs include costs associated with our compliance with the Consent Decree we entered into in November 2013 with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (“LDEQ”) regarding Cabot’s three carbon black manufacturing facilities in the U.S. This settlement is related to the EPA’s national enforcement initiative focused on the U.S. carbon black manufacturing sector alleging non-compliance with certain regulatory and permitting requirements under The Clean Air Act, including the New Source Review (“NSR”) construction permitting requirements. Pursuant to this settlement, Cabot is in the process of installing technology controls for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. We expect that the total capital costs to install these controls will be approximately $200 million and will be incurred through calendar year 2022. As of September 30, 2020, we have spent $82 million to install these controls in the U.S. We also expect our operating costs will increase as these controls become operational. All carbon black manufacturers in the U.S. have settled with the EPA and will be installing similar controls.

9


Environmental agencies worldwide are increasingly implementing regulations and other requirements resulting in more restrictive air emission limits globally, particularly as they relate to nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter emissions. In addition, global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions impact the carbon black and activated carbon industries as carbon dioxide is emitted from those manufacturing processes. In Europe, our four carbon black facilities and one activated carbon facility are subject to the EU Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS). The fourth phase of the EU ETS begins in January 2021 with updated product benchmarks for our carbon black facilities.  In China, two of our carbon black facilities continue to participate in regional pilot greenhouse gas emissions trading programs.  The China national emissions trading program is currently only affecting the power sector and has yet to be expanded beyond that sector. We continue to monitor that program’s implementation and expect it to apply to the entire carbon black industry in 2021 or 2022, with the existing pilots expected to continue to operate until the national program becomes effective.  In Canada, our carbon black manufacturing facility is now subject to the backstop Canadian carbon tax program. Based on an announcement on September 21, 2020 from Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Ontario Emissions Performance Standard trading system will replace the Canadian Output-Based Pricing System for our carbon black facility with specific requirements of the transition expected to be announced in early fiscal 2021. In addition, under the Province of Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks regulations, we expect we will be required within the next three to five years, to install technology controls for sulfur dioxide at our manufacturing plant in Sarnia, Ontario. In Mexico, our carbon black facility is participating in the pilot national ETS program, which is expected to continue into fiscal 2022. A carbon tax has recently been adopted in the Tamaulipas state, where our operations in Mexico are located, and is scheduled to be implemented in January 2021. In other regions where we operate, some of our facilities are required to report their greenhouse gas emissions but are not currently subject to programs requiring trading or emission controls but may be subject to limited carbon tax programs affecting fuels we purchase. We generally expect to pay any incurred taxes or purchase emission credits as needed to respond to any allocation shortfalls and pass these costs on to our customers. Based on regulatory and tax programs currently in effect associated with greenhouse gas emissions, in fiscal 2020, we spent approximately $1 million to purchase emission allowances or pay taxes in Europe, China and Canada. In addition, further air emission regulations may be adopted in the future in regions and countries where we operate, which could have an impact on our operations. Increasing regulatory programs associated with emissions and concerns regarding climate change are expected to increase our capital and operational costs in the future.

Cabot has been named as a potentially responsible party under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (the “Superfund law”) and comparable state statutes with respect to several sites primarily associated with our divested businesses. (See “Legal Proceedings” in Item 3 below, and Note U in Item 8 below, under the heading “Contingencies”.) During the next several years, as remediation of various environmental sites is carried out, we expect to spend against our environmental reserve for costs associated with such remediation. As of September 30, 2020, our environmental reserve was $7 million. Adjustments are made to the reserve based on our continuing analysis of our share of costs likely to be incurred at each site. Inherent uncertainties exist in these estimates due to unknown conditions at the various sites, changing governmental regulations and legal standards regarding liability, and changing technologies for handling site investigation and remediation. While the reserve represents our best estimate of the costs we expect to incur, the actual costs to investigate and remediate these sites may exceed the amounts accrued in the environmental reserve. While it is always possible that an unusual event may occur with respect to a given site and have a material adverse effect on our results of operations in a particular period, we do not believe that the costs relating to these sites, in the aggregate, are likely to have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial position. Furthermore, it is possible that we may also incur future costs relating to environmental liabilities not currently known to us or as to which it is currently not possible to make an estimate.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (“IARC”) classifies carbon black as a Group 2B substance (known animal carcinogen, possible human carcinogen). We have communicated IARC’s classification of carbon black to our customers and employees and have included that information in our safety data sheets and elsewhere, as appropriate. We continue to believe that the available evidence, taken as a whole, indicates that carbon black is not carcinogenic to humans, and does not present a health hazard when handled in accordance with good housekeeping and safe workplace practices as described in our safety data sheets.

REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals), the European Union (“EU”) regulatory framework for chemicals developed by the European Commission (“EC”), applies to all chemical substances produced or imported into the EU in quantities of one metric ton a year or more. Manufacturers or importers of these chemical substances are required to submit specified health, safety, risk and use information about the substance to the European Chemical Agency (“ECHA”). We have completed all required registrations under REACH to date and will update registration dossiers as needed. Under the evaluation portion of REACH, ECHA and EU member states assess the information submitted in registration dossiers and testing proposals to determine whether the substances are safe for use. Silica is currently being evaluated and carbon black is scheduled for review in 2022. In addition, the EC is working on re-defining nanomaterial. ECHA is developing guidance on nanomaterials and additional requirements for nanomaterials that apply to many of our existing products, including carbon black, fumed silica, inkjet pigments and fumed alumina. Country-specific REACH and nanomaterial reporting programs have been implemented in some countries and are being developed by others. We will continue to monitor and address these requirements.

10


A number of organizations and regulatory agencies have become increasingly focused on the issue of water scarcity and water quality, particularly in certain geographic regions. We are engaged in various activities to promote water conservation and wastewater recycling. The costs associated with these activities are not expected to have a material adverse effect on our operations.

Various U.S. agencies and international bodies have adopted security requirements applicable to certain manufacturing and industrial facilities and marine port locations. These security-related requirements involve the preparation of security assessments and security plans in some cases, and in other cases the registration of certain facilities with specified governmental authorities. We closely monitor all security-related regulatory developments and believe we are in compliance with all existing requirements. Compliance with such requirements is not expected to have a material adverse effect on our operations.

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

In addition to factors described elsewhere in this report, the following are important factors that could adversely affect our business. The risks described below are not the only risks we face. Additional risks not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial may also impair our business operations and financial results.

COVID-19 Pandemic Risk

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our operations and has had and could continue to have a material adverse effect on our business and any future outbreak of a widespread health epidemic could materially and adversely impact our business in the future.

Our business has been and could in the future be materially and adversely affected by the outbreak of a widespread health epidemic. The coronavirus (or COVID-19) pandemic and the associated containment efforts have had a serious adverse impact on the economy and on our business, results of operations and cash flows. Specifically, during fiscal 2020,the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted operations at our key customers within the automotive and tire industries, which materially reduced demand for our products. The deterioration of earnings we experienced from the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the factors that contributed to our recording of a valuation allowance on our U.S. deferred tax assets in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, as described in Note S in Item 8 below under the heading “Income Taxes”. In response to reduced demand for our products, and also to comply with government mandates, during portions of fiscal 2020 we temporarily ceased operations or idled production lines at our facilities and we may be required to do this in the future.  In addition, the current pandemic, or any future global health crisis, could materially affect our ability to adequately staff and maintain our operations, including in the event government authorities impose mandatory closures, work-from-home orders and social distancing protocols, and seek voluntary facility closures and impose other restrictions to mitigate the further spread of disease.  A global health crisis could also disrupt our supply chain and materially and adversely impact our ability to secure supplies for our facilities and to provide personal protective equipment for our employees, which could materially and adversely affect our operations.  There may also be long-term effects on our customers in, and the economies of, affected countries. Even if a virus or other illness does not spread significantly, the perceived risk of infection or health risk may materially affect our business. Any of the foregoing within the countries in which we or our customers and suppliers operate could severely disrupt our operations and could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition. As we cannot predict the duration or scope of COVID-19 or any pandemic, the negative financial impact to our results cannot be reasonably estimated and could be material. Factors that will influence the impact on our business and operations include the duration and extent of the pandemic, the extent of imposed or recommended containment and mitigation measures and their impact on our operations and the operations of our customers, and the general economic consequences of the pandemic. In addition, a global health crisis that continues for an extended period of time with an adverse impact on our revenue and overall profitability may lead to an increase in inventory reserves, allowances for doubtful accounts, and additional valuation allowances on certain of our deferred tax assets, or a reduction in our borrowing availability under our credit agreements, or cause us to recognize impairments for certain long-lived assets including goodwill, intangible assets or property, plant and equipment.

To the extent the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected our business and financial results, it may also have the effect of heightening many of the other risks that could adversely affect our business described below, such as risks associated with industry capacity utilization, volatility in the price and availability of raw materials, material adverse changes in customer relationships including any failure of a customer to perform its obligations under agreements with us, IT security systems risks, factors affecting our tax rate, and risks associated with worldwide or regional economic conditions.

11


Industry Risks

Industry capacity utilization and competition from other specialty chemical companies may adversely impact our business.

Our businesses are sensitive to industry capacity utilization, and pricing tends to fluctuate when capacity utilization changes occur, which could affect our financial performance. Further, we operate in a highly competitive marketplace. Our ability to compete successfully depends in part upon our ability to maintain a superior technological capability and to continue to identify, develop and commercialize new and innovative, high value-added products for existing and future customers. Increased competition from existing or newly developed products offered by our competitors or companies whose products offer a similar functionality as our products and could be substituted for our products, may negatively affect demand for our products. In addition, actions by our competitors could impair our ability to maintain or raise prices, successfully enter new markets or maintain or grow our market position.

Environmental regulations and restrictions that affect the carbon black industry impose constraints on our operations, and could threaten our competitive position and increase our operating costs, which may adversely impact our business and results of operations.

Our ongoing carbon black operations are subject to extensive federal, state, local and foreign laws, regulations, rules and ordinances relating to environmental matters, many of which provide for substantial monetary fines and criminal sanctions for violations. These include requirements to obtain and comply with various environmental-related and other permits for constructing any new facilities and operating all of our existing facilities. These environmental regulatory requirements and restrictions impose constraints on our operations, and could threaten our competitive position. We have expended and will continue to expend considerable amounts to construct, maintain, operate, and improve our facilities around the world for environmental protection. A description of these costs is included in the discussion under the heading “Safety, Health, Environment, and Sustainability” in Item 1 above, under the heading “Legal Proceedings” in Item 3 below and in Note U in Item 8 below under the heading “Contingencies”).

Further, environmental agencies worldwide are increasingly implementing regulations and other requirements resulting in more restrictive air emission limits globally, particularly as they relate to nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter emissions. In addition, in certain geographic areas, our carbon black and activated carbon facilities are or may become subject to greenhouse gas emission trading schemes or carbon tax programs under which we may be required to pay any incurred taxes or purchase emission credits if our emission levels exceed our free allocation. Based on regulatory and tax programs currently in effect associated with greenhouse gas emissions, in fiscal 2020, we spent approximately $1 million to purchase emission allowances or pay taxes in Europe, China and Canada.  We expect complying with regulations in Ontario, Canada that apply to our plant in Sarnia, as well as a number of regulatory and tax changes being proposed in other regions where we operate, if approved, will require us to incur significant additional costs for compliance, capital improvements or limit our current or planned operations. We may not be able to offset the effects of these compliance costs through price increases. Our ability to implement price increases is largely influenced by competitive and economic conditions and could vary significantly depending on the segment served. Such increases may not be accepted by our customers, may not be sufficient to compensate for increased regulatory costs or may decrease demand for our products and our volume of sales.

Volatility in the price and availability of raw materials and energy could impact our margins and working capital.

Our manufacturing processes consume significant amounts of energy and raw materials, the costs of which are subject to worldwide supply and demand as well as other factors beyond our control. Our carbon black businesses use a variety of feedstocks as raw material including high sulfur fuel oils, low sulfur fuel oils, coal tar distillates, and ethylene cracker residue, the cost and availability of which vary, based in part on geography. Significant movements or volatility in our carbon black feedstock costs could have an adverse effect on our working capital and results of operations. In addition, regulatory changes may impact the prices of our feedstocks. For example, the International Maritime Organization regulation known as MARPOL further restricted the sulfur emissions for the shipping industry beginning January 1, 2020. This has impacted the prices and could impact the availability of certain fuel oils we use as feedstock for our products.

12


Certain of our carbon black supply arrangements contain provisions that adjust prices to account for changes in relevant feedstock and natural gas price indices. We also attempt to offset the effects of increases in raw material and energy costs through selling price increases in our non-contract sales, productivity improvements and cost reduction efforts. Success in offsetting increased raw material and energy costs with price increases is largely influenced by competitive and economic conditions and could vary significantly depending on the segment served. Such increases may not be accepted by our customers, may not be sufficient to compensate for increased raw material and energy costs or may decrease demand for our products and our volume of sales. If we are not able to fully offset the effects of increased raw material or energy costs, it could have a significant impact on our financial results. Rapid declines in energy and raw material costs can also negatively impact our financial results, as such changes can negatively affect the returns we receive on our energy centers and yield improvement investments, and may negatively impact our contract pricing adjustments. In addition, we use a variety of feedstock indices in our supply arrangements to adjust our prices for changes in raw materials costs. Depending on feedstock markets and our choice of feedstocks, the indices we use in our supply arrangements may not precisely track our actual costs. This could result in an incongruity between our pricing adjustments and changes in our actual feedstock costs, which can affect our margins.

In addition, we obtain certain of our raw materials from selected key suppliers. Although we maintain raw material inventory, if any sole source supplier of raw materials ceases supplying raw materials to us, or if any of our key suppliers is unable to meet its obligations under supply agreements with us on a timely basis or at an acceptable price, or at all, we may be forced to incur higher costs to obtain the necessary raw materials elsewhere or, in certain limited cases, may not be able to obtain the required raw materials.

A significant adverse change in a customer relationship or the failure of a customer to perform its obligations under agreements with us could harm our business or cash flows.

Our success in strengthening relationships and growing business with our largest customers and retaining their business over extended time periods is important to our future results. We have a group of key customers across our businesses that together represent a significant portion of our total net sales and operating revenues. The loss of any of our important customers, or a significant reduction in volumes sold to them, could adversely affect our results of operations until such business is replaced or any temporary disruption ends. Further, in our Reinforcement Materials segment we enter into supply arrangements with a number of key customers that typically have a duration of one year, which account for approximately half of our total rubber blacks volumes. Our success in negotiating the price and volume terms under these arrangements could have a material effect on our results. In addition, any deterioration in the financial condition of any of our customers that impairs our customers’ ability to make payments to us also could increase our uncollectible receivables and could affect our future results and financial condition.

We are exposed to political or country risk inherent in doing business in some countries.

Sales outside of the U.S. constituted the majority of our revenues in fiscal 2020. We conduct business in several countries that have less stable legal systems and financial markets, and potentially more corrupt business environments than the U.S. Our operations in some countries are subject to the following risks: changes in the rate of economic growth; unsettled political or economic conditions; non-renewal of operating permits or licenses; possible expropriation or other governmental actions; corruption by government officials and other third parties; social unrest, war, terrorist activities or other armed conflict; confiscatory taxation or other adverse tax policies; deprivation of contract rights; trade regulations affecting production, pricing and marketing of products; reduced protection of intellectual property rights; restrictions or additional costs associated with repatriating cash; exchange controls; inflation; currency fluctuations and devaluation; political tension that could result in sanctions being imposed against our customers or suppliers in countries where sanctions have not been imposed in the past; the effect of global health, safety and environmental matters on economic conditions and market opportunities; and changes in financial policy and availability of credit.

The Chinese government has, from time to time, curtailed manufacturing operations, with little or no notice, in industrial regions out of growing concern over air quality. The timing and length of these curtailments are difficult to predict and, at times, are applied to manufacturing operations without regard to whether the operations being curtailed comply with environmental regulations in the area. Accordingly, our manufacturing operations in China have been subject to these curtailments in the past and may be in the future. These events could negatively impact our results of operations and cash flows both during and after the period of any curtailment affecting our operations.

13


Operational Risks

As a chemical manufacturing company, our operations are subject to operational risks and have the potential to cause environmental or other damage as well as personal injury, or disrupt our ability to supply our customers, any of which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and cash flows.

The operation of a chemical manufacturing business as well as the sale and distribution of chemical products are subject to operational as well as safety, health and environmental risks. For example, the production and/or processing of carbon black, specialty compounds, fumed metal oxides, aerogel, activated carbon and other chemicals involve the handling, transportation, manufacture or use of certain substances or components that may be considered toxic or hazardous. Our manufacturing processes and the transportation of our chemical products and/or the raw materials used to manufacture our products are subject to risks inherent in chemical manufacturing, including leaks, fires, explosions, toxic releases, mechanical failures or unscheduled downtime. In addition, the occurrence of material operating problems at our facilities, particularly at a facility that is the sole source of a particular product we manufacture, or a disruption in our supply chain or distribution operations may result in loss of production, which, in turn, may make it difficult for us to meet customer needs. Accordingly, these events and their consequences could negatively impact our results of operations and cash flows, both during and after the period of operational difficulties, and could harm our reputation.

An interruption in our operations as a result of fence-line arrangements could disrupt our manufacturing operations and adversely affect our financial results.

At certain of our facilities we have fence-line arrangements with adjacent third party manufacturing operations (“fence-line partners”), who provide raw materials for our manufacturing operations and/or take by-products generated from our operations. Accordingly, any disruptions or curtailments in a fence-line partner’s production facilities that impacts their ability to supply us with raw materials or to take our manufacturing by-products could disrupt our manufacturing operations or cause us to incur increased operating costs to mitigate such disruption.

Our products are subject to extensive safety, health and environmental requirements, which could impair our ability to manufacture and sell certain products.

In order to secure and maintain the right to produce or sell our products, we must satisfy product related regulatory requirements in different jurisdictions. Obtaining and maintaining these approvals requires a significant amount of product testing and data, and there is no certainty these approvals will be obtained.

Certain national and international health organizations have classified carbon black as a possible or suspected human carcinogen. To the extent that, in the future, (i) these organizations re-classify carbon black as a known or confirmed carcinogen, (ii) other organizations or government authorities in other jurisdictions classify carbon black or any of our other finished products, raw materials or intermediates as suspected or known carcinogens or otherwise hazardous, or (iii) there is discovery of adverse health effects attributable to production or use of carbon black or any of our other finished products, raw materials or intermediates, we could be required to incur significantly higher costs to comply with environmental, health and safety laws, or to comply with restrictions on sales of our products, be subject to legal claims, and our reputation and business could be adversely affected. In addition, chemicals that are currently classified as non-hazardous may be classified as hazardous in the future, and our products may have characteristics that are not recognized today but may be found in the future to impair human health or to be carcinogenic.

14


Information technology systems failures, data security breaches or network disruptions could compromise our information, disrupt our operations and expose us to liability, which may adversely impact our operations.

In the ordinary course of our business, we store sensitive data, including intellectual property, our proprietary business information and certain information of our customers, suppliers, business partners, and employees in our information technology systems. The secure processing, maintenance and transmission of this data is critical to our operations. Information technology systems failures, including risks associated with upgrading our systems or in successfully integrating information technology and other systems in connection with the integration of businesses we acquire, network disruptions or unauthorized access could disrupt our operations by impeding our processing of transactions and our financial reporting, and our ability to protect our customer or company information, which could have a material adverse effect on our business or results of operations. In addition, as with all enterprise information systems, our information technology systems could be penetrated by outside parties intent on extracting information, corrupting information, or disrupting business processes. Breaches of our security measures or the accidental loss, inadvertent disclosure, or unapproved dissemination of proprietary information or sensitive or confidential information about the Company, our employees, our vendors, or our customers, could result in legal claims or proceedings and potential liability for us, and damage to our reputation, and could otherwise harm our business and our results of operations.

Natural disasters could affect our operations and financial results.

We operate facilities in areas of the world that are exposed to natural hazards, such as floods, windstorms, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Extreme weather events present physical risks that may become more frequent or more severe as a result of factors related to climate change. Such events could disrupt our supply of raw materials or otherwise affect production, transportation and delivery of our products or affect demand for our products.

Technology Risks

We may not be successful achieving our growth expectations from new products, new applications and technology developments, and money we spend on these efforts may not result in an increase in revenues or profits commensurate with our investment.

We may not be successful achieving our growth expectations from developing new products or product applications. Moreover, we cannot be certain that the costs we incur investing in new product and technology development will result in an increase in revenues or profits commensurate with our investment. For example, our investments to further develop our E2C™ solutions and energy materials applications may not result in the earnings growth expectations on which these investments are being made. In addition, the timely commercialization of products that we are developing may be disrupted or delayed by manufacturing or other technical difficulties, market acceptance or insufficient market size to support a new product, competitors’ new products, and difficulties in moving from the experimental stage to the production stage. These disruptions or delays could affect our future business results.

The continued protection of our patents, trade secrets and other proprietary intellectual property rights are important to our success.

Our patents, trade secrets and other intellectual property rights are important to our success and competitive position. We own various patents and other intellectual property rights in the U.S. and other countries covering many of our products, as well as processes and product uses. Where we believe patent protection is not appropriate or obtainable, we rely on trade secret laws and practices to protect our proprietary technology and processes, such as physical security, limited dissemination and access and confidentiality agreements with our employees, customers, consultants, business partners, potential licensees and others to protect our trade secrets and other proprietary information. However, trade secrets can be difficult to protect and the protective measures we have put in place may not prevent disclosure or unauthorized use of our proprietary information or provide an adequate remedy in the event of misappropriation or other violations of our proprietary rights. In addition, we are a licensee of various patents and intellectual property rights belonging to others in the U.S. and other countries. Because the laws and enforcement mechanisms of some countries may not allow us to protect our proprietary rights to the same extent as we are able to do in the U.S., the strength of our intellectual property rights will vary from country to country.

Irrespective of our proprietary intellectual property rights, we may be subject to claims that our products, processes or product uses infringe the intellectual property rights of others. These claims, even if they are without merit, could be expensive and time consuming to defend and if we were to lose such claims, we could be enjoined from selling our products or using our processes and/or be subject to damages, or be required to enter into licensing agreements requiring royalty payments and/or use restrictions. Licensing agreements may not be available to us, or if available, may not be available on acceptable terms.

15


Portfolio Management, Capacity Expansion and Integration Risks

Any failure to realize benefits from acquisitions, alliances or joint ventures or to achieve our portfolio management objectives could adversely affect future financial results.

In achieving our strategic plan objectives, we may pursue acquisitions, alliances or joint ventures intended to complement or expand our existing businesses globally or add product technology, or both. The success of acquisitions of businesses, new technologies and products, or arrangements with third parties is not always predictable and we may not be successful in realizing our objectives as anticipated. We may not be able to integrate any acquired businesses successfully into our existing businesses, make such businesses profitable, or realize anticipated cost savings or synergies, if any, from these acquisitions, which could adversely affect our business results. In addition to strategic acquisitions we evaluate our portfolio in light of our objectives and alignment with our growth strategy. In implementing this strategy we may not be successful in separating non-strategic assets. The gains or losses on the divestiture of, or lost operating income from, such assets may affect our earnings. Moreover, we may incur asset impairment charges related to acquisitions or divestitures that reduce earnings, as was the case when we disposed of our Specialty Fluids business and our lignite mine in Marshall, Texas.

Plant capacity expansions and site development projects may impact existing plant operations, be delayed and/or not achieve the expected benefits.

Our ability to complete capacity expansions and site development projects as planned may be delayed or interrupted by the need to obtain environmental and other regulatory approvals, unexpected cost increases, availability of labor and materials, unforeseen hazards such as weather conditions, and other risks customarily associated with construction projects. These risks include the risk that existing plant operations are disrupted, which could make it difficult for us to meet our customer needs. Moreover, in the case of capacity expansions, the cost of these activities could have a negative impact on the financial performance of the relevant business until capacity utilization at the particular facility is sufficient to absorb the incremental costs associated with an expansion. In addition, our ability to expand capacity in emerging regions depends in part on economic and political conditions in these regions and, in some cases, on our ability to establish operations, construct additional manufacturing capacity or form strategic business alliances.

Financial Risks

Negative or uncertain worldwide or regional economic conditions or trade relations may adversely impact our business.

Our operations and performance are affected by worldwide and regional economic conditions. Uncertainty or a deterioration in the economic conditions affecting the businesses to which, or geographic areas in which, we sell products could reduce demand for our products. We may also experience pricing pressure on products and services, which could decrease our revenues and have an adverse effect on our financial condition and cash flows. In addition, during periods of economic uncertainty, our customers may temporarily pursue inventory reduction measures that exceed declines in the actual underlying demand.

In addition, changes in, or tensions relating to, U.S. trade relations with countries where we do business may adversely impact our business. For example, recent tensions in the U.S.-China trade relationship led to the implementation by both countries of higher tariffs on imported goods from the other. It also increased the risk of sanctions being imposed against our suppliers and customers in China which, if imposed, could restrict our ability to do business with such companies. The uncertainty created by these trade tensions negatively affected the buying behavior of our customers, lowering industry demand and creating a more competitive pricing environment for our products. In addition, further trade tensions between the countries could have further adverse implications on our businesses and operating results in both the U.S. and China. For instance, we may encounter unexpected operating difficulties in China, more restrictive investment opportunities in China, greater difficulty transferring funds, or negative currency impacts. Further, the cost of our capital projects may be higher than anticipated because of these trade tariffs.

Litigation or legal proceedings could expose us to significant liabilities and thus negatively affect our financial results.

As more fully described in “Legal Proceedings” in Item 3 below and in Note U in Item 8 below, under the heading “Contingencies”, we are a party to or the subject of lawsuits, claims, and proceedings, including, but not limited to, those involving environmental, and health and safety matters as well as product liability and personal injury claims relating to asbestosis, silicosis, and coal worker’s pneumoconiosis. We are also a potentially responsible party in various environmental proceedings and remediation matters wherein substantial amounts are at issue. Adverse rulings, judgments or settlements in pending or future litigation (including liabilities associated with respirator claims) or in connection with environmental remediation activities could adversely affect our financial results or cause our results to differ materially from those expressed or forecasted in any forward-looking statements.

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Our tax rate is dependent upon a number of factors, a change in any of which could impact our future tax rates and net income.

Our future tax rates may be adversely affected by a number of factors, including: changes in the jurisdictions in which our profits are determined to be earned and taxed; changes in the estimated realization of our net deferred tax assets; the repatriation of non-U.S. earnings for which we have not previously provided for non-U.S. withholding taxes; adjustments to estimated taxes upon finalization of various tax returns; increases in expenses that are not deductible for tax purposes; changes in available tax credits; the resolution of issues arising from tax audits with various tax authorities; and changes in tax laws or the interpretation of such tax laws. In addition, losses for which no tax benefits can be recorded could materially impact our tax rate and its volatility from one quarter to another.

Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange and interest rates affect our financial results.

We earn revenues, pay expenses, own assets and incur liabilities in countries using currencies other than the U.S. dollar. In fiscal 2020, we derived a majority of our revenues from sales outside the U.S. Because our consolidated financial statements are presented in U.S. dollars, we must translate revenues and expenses, as well as assets and liabilities, into U.S. dollars at exchange rates in effect during or at the end of each reporting period. Therefore, increases or decreases in the value of the U.S. dollar against other currencies in countries where we operate will affect our results of operations and the value of balance sheet items denominated in foreign currencies. Due to the geographic diversity of our operations, weaknesses in some currencies might be offset by strengths in others over time. In addition, we are exposed to adverse changes in interest rates. We manage both these risks through normal operating and financing activities and, when deemed appropriate, through the use of derivative instruments as well as foreign currency debt. We cannot be certain, however, that we will be successful in reducing the risks inherent in exposures to foreign currency and interest rate fluctuations.

Further, we have exposure to foreign currency movements because certain foreign currency transactions need to be converted to a different currency for settlement. These conversions can have a direct impact on our cash flows.

We have entered into a number of derivative contracts with financial counterparties. The effectiveness of these contracts is dependent on the ability of these financial counterparties to perform their obligations and their nonperformance could harm our financial condition.

We have entered into forward foreign currency contracts and cross-currency swaps as part of our financial risk management strategy. The effectiveness of our risk management program using these instruments is dependent, in part, upon the counterparties to these contracts honoring their financial obligations. If any of our counterparties are unable to perform their obligations in the future, we could be exposed to increased earnings and cash flow volatility due to an instrument’s failure to hedge or adequately address a financial risk.

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

None.

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Item  2.

Properties

Cabot’s corporate headquarters are in leased office space in Boston, Massachusetts. We also own or lease office, manufacturing, storage, distribution, marketing and research and development facilities in the U.S. and in foreign countries. The locations of our principal manufacturing and/or administrative facilities are set forth in the table below. Unless otherwise indicated, all the properties are owned.

 

Location by Region

 

Reinforcement

Materials

 

Performance

Chemicals

 

Purification

Solutions

Americas Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alpharetta, Georgia*(1)

 

X

 

X

 

X

Tuscola, Illinois

 

 

 

X

 

 

Carrollton, Kentucky

 

 

 

X

 

 

Canal, Louisiana

 

X

 

X

 

 

Ville Platte, Louisiana

 

X

 

 

 

 

Billerica, Massachusetts

 

X

 

X

 

X

Haverhill, Massachusetts

 

 

 

X

 

 

Midland, Michigan

 

 

 

X

 

 

Pryor, Oklahoma

 

 

 

 

 

X

Marshall, Texas

 

 

 

 

 

X

Pampa, Texas

 

X

 

X

 

 

Campana, Argentina

 

X

 

 

 

 

Maua, Brazil

 

X

 

X

 

 

Sao Paulo, Brazil*(1)

 

X

 

X

 

X

Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec, Canada

 

 

 

X

 

 

Sarnia, Ontario, Canada

 

X

 

X

 

 

Cartagena, Colombia

 

X

 

 

 

 

Altamira, Mexico

 

X

 

 

 

 

Europe, Middle East and Africa Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loncin, Belgium

 

 

 

X

 

 

Pepinster, Belgium

 

 

 

X

 

 

Valasske Mezirici (Valmez), Czech Republic**

 

X

 

 

 

 

Port Jerome, France**

 

X

 

 

 

 

Frankfurt, Germany*

 

 

 

X

 

 

Rheinfelden, Germany

 

 

 

X

 

 

Ravenna, Italy (2 plants)

 

X

 

 

 

X

Riga, Latvia*(1)

 

X

 

X

 

X

Schaffhausen, Switzerland*

 

X

 

X

 

X

Botlek, Netherlands**

 

X

 

X

 

 

Amersfoort, Netherlands*

 

 

 

 

 

X

Klazienaveen, Netherlands

 

 

 

 

 

X

Zaandam, Netherlands

 

 

 

 

 

X

Dubai, United Arab Emirates*

 

 

 

X

 

 

Purton, United Kingdom (England)

 

 

 

 

 

X

Glasgow, United Kingdom (Scotland)

 

 

 

 

 

X

Barry, United Kingdom (Wales)**

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

18


Location by Region

 

Reinforcement

Materials

 

Performance

Chemicals

 

Purification

Solutions

Asia Pacific Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jiangsu Province, China**

 

 

 

X

 

 

Jiangxi Province, China**

 

 

 

X

 

 

Tianjin, China**

 

X

 

X

 

 

Shanghai, China*(1)

 

X

 

X

 

X

Shanghai, China** (plant)

 

X

 

 

 

 

Xingtai City, China**

 

X

 

 

 

 

Wuhai, China**

 

 

 

X

 

 

Shenzhen, China**

 

 

 

X

 

 

Zhuhai, China**

 

 

 

X

 

 

Mumbai, India*

 

X

 

X

 

X

Cilegon, Indonesia**

 

X

 

 

 

 

Jakarta, Indonesia*(1)

 

X

 

X

 

X

Chiba, Japan

 

X

 

 

 

 

Shimonoseki, Japan**

 

X

 

 

 

 

Tokyo, Japan*(1)

 

X

 

X

 

X

Port Dickson, Malaysia**

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

(1)

Business service center

*

Leased premises

**

Building(s) owned by Cabot on leased land

We conduct research and development for our various businesses primarily at facilities in Billerica, Massachusetts; Amersfoort, Netherlands; Pampa, Texas; Pepinster, Belgium; Frankfurt, Germany; and Zhuhai and Shanghai, China.

With our existing manufacturing plants and planned expansions, we generally have sufficient production capacity to meet current requirements and expected near-term growth. These plants are generally well maintained, in good operating condition and suitable and adequate for their intended use. Our administrative offices and other facilities are suitable and adequate for their intended purposes.

19


Item  3.

Cabot is a party in various lawsuits and environmental proceedings wherein substantial amounts are claimed. In addition to the matter discussed below under “Environmental Proceedings”, additional information regarding legal proceedings involving Cabot is disclosed in Note U in Item 8 below, under the heading “Contingencies”, which disclosure is incorporated herein by reference.

Environmental Proceedings

During 2020, we continued to perform certain sampling and remediation activities at a former pine tar manufacturing site in Gainesville, Florida that we sold in the 1960s. Those activities were pursuant to a formal Record of Decision and 1991 Consent Decree with the EPA under which we installed a groundwater treatment system at the site in the early 1990s, which remains in operation. More recently, we were requested by the EPA and other stakeholders to carry out various other additional work at the site. We completed that work in fiscal 2020, working cooperatively with the EPA, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the local authorities, and the site is now in operation and maintenance mode.

Item  4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

Not applicable.

Information about our Executive Officers

Set forth below is certain information about Cabot’s executive officers as of November 20, 2020.

Sean D. Keohane, age 53, is President and Chief Executive Officer and a member of Cabot’s Board of Directors, positions he has held since March 2016. Mr. Keohane joined Cabot in 2002. From November 2014 until March 2016 he was Executive Vice President and President of Reinforcement Materials. From March 2012 until November 2014, he was Senior Vice President and President of Performance Chemicals, and from May 2008 until March 2012, he was General Manager of Performance Chemicals. He was appointed Vice President in March 2005, Senior Vice President in March 2012 and Executive Vice President in November 2014. He was a member of the Interim Office of the Chief Executive Officer, which was in place from December 2015 until March 2016.

Erica McLaughlin, age 44, is Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Ms. McLaughlin joined Cabot in 2002. She was appointed Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in May 2018, and in October 2018 she assumed responsibility for Corporate Strategy and Development. From June 2016 until May 2018 she was Vice President of Business Operations for Reinforcement Materials and General Manager of the tire business, and from July 2011 until June 2016, she was Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications. Prior to July 2011, she held a variety of leadership positions in Finance and Corporate Planning.

Karen A. Kalita, age 41, is Senior Vice President and General Counsel. Ms. Kalita joined Cabot in 2008. Prior to assuming her current position in June 2019, she held several key positions in Cabot’s Law Department, including Chief Counsel to the Company’s Reinforcement Materials segment from November 2015 to June 2019 and Purification Solutions segment from June 2013 to June 2019, and senior legal counsel to the Company’s previous Advanced Technologies segment. Prior to joining the Company, Ms. Kalita was in private practice at WilmerHale LLP in Boston, MA.

Hobart C. Kalkstein, age 50, is Senior Vice President and President, Reinforcement Materials Segment and President, Americas Region. Mr. Kalkstein joined Cabot in 2005. Prior to assuming his current role in April 2016, he was Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Development from December 2015 to April 2016. From October 2013 to December 2015, he served as Vice President of Global Business Operations for Purification Solutions and from November 2012 to December 2015 as General Manager of Global Emission Control Solutions for Purification Solutions, and from January 2012 to November 2012 he served as Vice President of Business Operations and Executive Director of Marketing and Business Strategy for Performance Chemicals. Prior to that, he served as General Manager of the Aerogel business from October 2007 to February 2010.

Jeff Zhu, age 52, is Senior Vice President and President, Performance Additives business and President, Asia Pacific Region. Mr. Zhu joined Cabot in 2012. Prior to assuming his current role in October 2019, he had served as President, Asia Pacific Region since joining Cabot. Prior to joining Cabot, Mr. Zhu served in a variety of regional and global business leadership roles at Rhodia from 1994 until 2010, including Asia Pacific regional commercial director from 1994 to 2002, regional vice president and general manager of Rhodia Novacare Asia Pacific from 2002 to 2008, and vice president and global director of Rhodia electronics and catalysis from 2008 to 2010. In addition, Mr. Zhu served as head of global pulp and paper sales at Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited from 2010 to 2012.

 

 

20


PART II

Item  5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Cabot’s common stock is listed for trading (symbol CBT) on the New York Stock Exchange. As of November 20, 2020, there were 631 holders of record of Cabot’s common stock.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

On July 13, 2018, Cabot publicly announced that the Board of Directors authorized the Company to repurchase up to an additional ten million shares of its common stock on the open market or in privately negotiated transactions, increasing the amount of shares available for repurchase at that time to approximately eleven million shares. The current authorization does not have a set expiration date.  As of September 30, 2020, there were 5,023,665 shares available for repurchase under this authorization. During the second quarter of fiscal 2020 Cabot temporarily suspended its share repurchase activity.

Comparative Stock Performance

The graph compares the cumulative total stockholder return on Cabot common stock for the five-year period ended September 30, 2020 with the S&P 500 Chemicals Index and the S&P Midcap 400 Index. The comparisons assume the investment of $100 on October 1, 2015 in Cabot’s common stock and in each of the indices and the reinvestment of all dividends.

The stock price performance on the graph below is not necessarily indicative of future price performance.

 

The information included under the heading comparative stock performance in Item 5 shall not be deemed to be “soliciting material” or subject to Regulation 14A, shall not be deemed “filed” for purposes of Section 18 of the Exchange Act, or otherwise be subject to the liabilities of that section, nor shall it be deemed incorporated by reference in any filing under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Exchange Act.

 

21


Item  6.

Selected Financial Data

 

 

 

Years Ended September 30

 

 

 

2020

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

 

(In millions, except per share amounts and ratios)

 

Consolidated Net Income (Loss)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net sales and other operating revenues

 

$

2,614

 

 

$

3,337

 

 

$

3,242

 

 

$

2,717

 

 

$

2,411

 

Gross profit(1)

 

 

500

 

 

 

685

 

 

 

772

 

 

 

657

 

 

 

575

 

Selling and administrative expenses(1)

 

 

292

 

 

 

290

 

 

 

308

 

 

 

262

 

 

 

275

 

Research and technical expenses(1)

 

 

57

 

 

 

60

 

 

 

66

 

 

 

57

 

 

 

53

 

Marshall Mine loss on sale and asset impairment charge

 

 

129

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specialty Fluids loss on sale and asset impairment charge

 

 

1

 

 

 

29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purification Solutions long-lived assets impairment charge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

162

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purification Solutions goodwill impairment charge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

92

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Income (loss) from operations

 

 

21

 

 

 

306

 

 

 

144

 

 

 

338

 

 

 

247

 

Net interest expense and other charges(1)(2)

 

 

(54

)

 

 

(51

)

 

 

(27

)

 

 

(39

)

 

 

(56

)

Income (loss) from continuing operations before income

   taxes and equity in earnings of affiliated companies(3)

 

 

(33

)

 

 

255

 

 

 

117

 

 

 

299

 

 

 

191

 

(Provision) benefit for income taxes(4)

 

 

(191

)

 

 

(70

)

 

 

(193

)

 

 

(33

)

 

 

(33

)

Equity in earnings of affiliated companies

 

 

3

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

3

 

Income (loss) from discontinued operations, net of tax

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Net income (loss)

 

 

(221

)

 

 

186

 

 

 

(74

)

 

 

273

 

 

 

162

 

Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests, net of tax

 

 

17

 

 

 

29

 

 

 

39

 

 

 

25

 

 

 

15

 

Net income (loss) attributable to Cabot Corporation

 

$

(238

)

 

$

157

 

 

$

(113

)

 

$

248

 

 

$

147

 

Common Share Data

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diluted net income (loss) attributable to Cabot Corporation:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Income (loss) from continuing operations

 

$

(4.21

)

 

$

2.63

 

 

$

(1.85

)

 

$

3.91

 

 

$

2.30

 

Income (loss) from discontinued operations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.02

 

Net income (loss) attributable to Cabot Corporation

 

$

(4.21

)

 

$

2.63

 

 

$

(1.85

)

 

$

3.91

 

 

$

2.32

 

Dividends

 

$

1.40

 

 

$

1.36

 

 

$

1.29

 

 

$

1.23

 

 

$

1.04

 

Closing stock prices

 

$

36.03

 

 

$

45.32

 

 

$

62.72

 

 

$

55.80

 

 

$

52.41

 

Weighted-average diluted shares outstanding—millions

 

 

56.6

 

 

 

58.8

 

 

 

61.7

 

 

 

62.7

 

 

 

62.9

 

Shares outstanding at year end—millions

 

 

56.5

 

 

 

57.1

 

 

 

60.4

 

 

 

61.9

 

 

 

62.2

 

Consolidated Financial Position

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current assets

 

$

978

 

 

$

1,210

 

 

$

1,386

 

 

$

1,299

 

 

$

1,073

 

Net property, plant, and equipment

 

 

1,314

 

 

 

1,348

 

 

 

1,296

 

 

 

1,305

 

 

 

1,290

 

Other assets

 

 

489

 

 

 

446

 

 

 

562

 

 

 

734

 

 

 

689

 

Total assets

 

$

2,781

 

 

$

3,004

 

 

$

3,244

 

 

$

3,338

 

 

$

3,052

 

Current liabilities

 

$

529

 

 

$

599

 

 

$

952

 

 

$

742

 

 

$

397

 

Long-term debt

 

 

1,094

 

 

 

1,024

 

 

 

719

 

 

 

661

 

 

 

914

 

Other long-term liabilities

 

 

344

 

 

 

247

 

 

 

294

 

 

 

310

 

 

 

352

 

Cabot Corporation stockholders’ equity

 

 

691

 

 

 

998