Batteries/Alkaline Primary 040816

Batteries/Alkaline Primary
 (July 2004) Energizer Holdings  wins a patent dispute over importation of certain Alkaline batteries into the United States. A U.S. International Trade Commission judge ruled that the import and sale of zero-mercury-added Alkaline batteries  be barred. The International Trade Commission will make a final ruling by September 2, 2004.
 (March 2004) Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. is planning to announce a new product, Oxyride, to compete with Alkaline batteries.  According to Japan Today’s January 29th edition, this is the first new dry battery to be introduced by a Japanese manufacturer  for 40 years.  Oxyride is reported to be more powerful and durable than Alkaline.
(Febuary2004) Rayovac acquires 85% of Ningo Baowang China Battery Company. Ningo Baowang, founded in 1995, produces Alkaline and heavy duty batteries for retail, OEM and private labelings. “With the Alkaline battery market in China experiencing rapid growth and our global customers expanding throughout Asia, it is imperative that we increase our manufacturing capacity in that part of the world,” said Dave Jones, Rayovac’s chairman and CEO. “The acquisition of Ningo Baowang will enable us to accomplish this objective.”

Ningo Baowang’s sales are projected to grow to $35 million in 2004 and by the end of this year, their manufacturing capacity will be increased to approximately one billion batteries.   

Rayovc is also planning to move its corporate headquarters from Madison, Wisconsin to Atlanta, Georgia.  Evidently, Atlanta is considered a better hub for accessibility.  CEO Dave Jones was quoted in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on January 13th, 2004, and in reference to the move he said, “(Atlanta  is) one that is more central to where our customers are, to where our professional service firms are and - more importantly - to where our people are, where our various headquarters are.” Rayovac sells products in 115 countries.  Over 55 percent of its sales and employees  are now outside North America.

 (January 2004) Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. is planning to announce a new product, Oxyride, to compete with Alkaline batteries.  According to Japan Today’s January 29th edition, this is the first new dry battery to be introduced by a Japanese manufacturer  40 years.  Oxyride is reported to be more powerful and durable than Alkaline.
(October,2003) What is happening in Alkaline Separator testing standardization?

ASTM task group D.09.19.02 is set to ballot three separator draft test
methods. Interesting individuals can request a copy from Christi Sierk
([email protected])Manager - Technical Committee Operations (D9).
Contributions can be made without being a ASTM member.

The three methods are:

* Standard Test Method for Determination of Ion Exchange Capacity in Grafted
Battery Separator.

* Standard Test Method for Determination of Ammonia Trapping in Grafted
Battery Separator.

*Standard Test Method for Determining the Electrical Resistance of Alkaline
Battery Separator
(July 2003) GP Batteries International revs up net earnings 90 per cent in a year to March 31, 2003.  Net profit was $32.6 million, a rise from $17.2 million a year earlier.  Increased sales of Nickel-metal hydride batteries  were noted.  The November 2002 purchase of a  75% stake in  NingBo Battery , a Chinese company, has been positive.  In fact, because of  NingBo Battery, GP’s market share of Alkaline batteries in China should grow from 2% to 12%.  
(June 2003) Energizer Co. Inc. and Eveready Co.  Inc.   ask US International Trade Commission (ITC) to investigate the patent right infringement of the mercury-free Alkaline batteries made in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Indonesia.   Some of the  companies listed from these Asian/Pacific  countries are FDK Corp of Japan, Fijjan Nanpin Nanfu Battery Co. Ltd. of China, GP Batteries International of Sinapore, Hi-Watt Battery Industry Company Ltd. of Hong Kong and Maxell Corp. of America (owned by Hitachi Ltd.). Energizer has asked that the ITC ban the import of the batteries and requested a cease and desist order to its competitors. The official complaint alleges that the Tariff Act of 1930 has been violated by allowing  imported products that may violating U.S. intellectual property rights to be barred from entering the U.S.   

This investigation  is not a minor issue since the output of Alkaline batteries totaled about 3.5 billion pieces in 2002, according to   - a site which is compiled by the Shanghai Daily.   All sizes of Alkalines (AA, AAA, C, and D) would be affected.  

First, the case will go to an ITC administrative judge who will review  the merits of the “complaint.”  If the judge concludes that Energizer’s patents have been infringed, the case goes back to the ITC for a review.  If the ITC concurs with Energizer’s accusation  and follow-up  request, President George Bush could override the decision if he feels that the decision is not in the interest of the pubic.
(May 2003) Duracell sales rise to $384 million with a profit of $39 million (compared to a $1 million loss a year ago)  for the first quarter.   Although Duracell made a price cut last January on their AA and AAA-sized batteries, sales were good as consumers, upon hearing the threats of terrorism and heightened status of alerts,  hoarded batteries.   Sales in the division were also boosted by sales to the military.    

Duracell sells at a 50 percent premium in comparison with other store brands.  Although Gillette intends to keep its position in the battery market, their outlook for future overall sales and profits was cautious.  Over the next year, projections are that currency comparisons will not be as favorable over the next year, retail sales  will be weak and competitive pressures will continue in most categories.
Rayovac Varta  (Sept, 02) Rayovac and Varta Combine to Form Consumer Battery Business
(June, 02) Question: Is there a group to set standard test methods for alkaline type separators?

Answer: Recently, ASTM agreed to support a task group to develop a group of consensus test methods. Committee D09 on Electrical and Electronic Insulating Materials under subcommittee 9.19 Solid Insulations, Non-Metallic Shielding & Coverings for Electrical & Telecommunication Wires and Cables agreed to setup the task group to work on this subject. The new task group formed was D09.19.02 Alkaline Battery Separator/Materials with George Zguris [ [email protected]], of Hollingsworth and Vose Company and Gary Thrasher [ [email protected] ], of Eveready Battery Company as co-chairpersons. This new task group will likely meet in Norfolk, VA on Wednesday, October 16, from 8-9 AM to start up the task group’s work. This meeting will be part of the ASTM Committee week in Norfolk. Additional details can be obtained by going to ASTM’s web site, All readers that have an interest, please contact either co-chairs, or Martin Fox, the Sub-Chairman [[email protected]], or ASTM D09 Staff Manager, Pat Picariello [[email protected]] (610) 832-9720.
(June 02) Q? Tell me more about Alkaline Battery Recycling. Recently a press release was issued stating that Alkaline battery recycling is beginning. How are the batteries being recycled and what is recovered?

A: Alkaline batteries are, by far, the largest single type of batteries sold to consumers in the U.S. and most likely the World.  Until now it has never been realistic to consider recovering the materials within the battery because of the low value of the materials. Alkaline batteries contain zinc, manganese, carbon, plastic, paper, electrolyte and metal.  The new process focuses on the recovery of the zinc, manganese, and metal.  The batteries are first ground into small pieces, thus exposing the active materials on the anode and cathode.  All of the materials are then put into a process to mechanically and chemically release the zinc and the manganese and convert them into a slurry.  This slurry is concentrated into a paste by eliminating the majority of the water.  The metals are recovered through standard mechanical techniques and sent for resale to either a scrap yard or to a primary smelter.  The concentrated zinc and manganese paste is sent to another primary smelter that focuses on the production of zinc and manganese.  The sale of all of the chemicals does not yield a profit because the materials recovered must still be refined and purified. (As I mentioned, these materials are very inexpensive when new, hence the low value of the recovered material.)  There is a cost associated with the recycling effort and it is more expensive than other disposal options (most recycling processes are...).  My opinion is that this is truly recycling, and for the volumes of batteries used by consumers, it must be done.

(June, 02) Energizer’s second-quarter shows profit. Income was $20 million ($.21/sh), compared with $5.6 million ($.06/sh), a year ago. However, net sales fell to $339.7 million from $355 million a year ago. Cost cutting was implemented to stimulate sales.

Rayovac also reported a second-quarter rise. Net income rose to $5.8 million from $2.4 million a year ago. From one year ago, sales fell 10% to $121.2 million and operating income before special charges fell 8% to $12.9 million. Interest and other non-operating expenses more than offset this decline. Rayovac expects battery industry growth to improve with the overall economy later this year.

(Dec, 01) Energizer Holding, Inc. reports fourth quarter decline in income. Earnings fell to $23.9 million ($.26/share) compared with $31.4 million ($.32/share) in the year-earlier period. Reasons given for the decline centered on the weak U.S. economy and global currency devaluations outside of the U.S. Rayovac’s fourth-quarter proforma net income fell 31.5% to $.27/share compared with $.44/share a year earlier.
In a A.C. Neilson study, Energizer and Duracell batteries were listed in the 43 brands that have billion dollar global presence (in sales).

(April, 02) Duracell’s new marketing strategy seems to be positive for Gillette. Since Gillette’s new CEO, Jim Kilts, took the reigns at Gillette, the Company has increased marketing spending to “rev up” Duracell sales and has also shipped less to retailers to drive down the inventories. An enhanced strategic focus on the mainstream basic CopperTop, “Copper and Black,” battery has been implemented to revitalize Duracell’s performance; previously, the premium “Ultra” had been the focus of the marketing dollars. Duracell has also ceased production at a plant in India and may shutting down some manufacturing lines in the U.S. “In the key U.S. market,” Mr. Kilts said in a news release on February 22nd, “We went from 21 months of share declines to eight months of share improvements, starting in June 2001.”

(Jan, 02) Rayovac Corp.’s earnings are owered to ‘hold’ by Prudential Securities because of its sales to K Mart. “At an estimated 10 percent of its U.S. sales, Rayovac’s exposure to Kmart is the highest in our coverage universe,” analyst Constance Maneaty said in a research note. Research Alert, Prudential Securities.