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April 27th, 2007
Altair's Thin Coating
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how Behr's Premium Plus Ultra paint now uses Nanophase Technologies' (Nasdaq: NANX) proprietary nanoparticles. That news makes the $134 million nanotech company look like a solid, if not spectacular, investment.
You might think I'd be similarly bullish about word from Altair Nanotechnologies (Nasdaq: ALTI) that it's teamed up with leading paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams (NYSE: SHW) to form a new company, AlSher Titania. All things being equal, it would be a step in the right direction for Altair; but as I've often said before, when it comes to this company, all things are not equal.
First off, Altair claims that AlSher Titania will be able to produce titanium dioxide pigment at a significantly lower price point than rivals. I find this a little hard to believe, especially since BASF (NYSE: BF) and Millennium Chemical (a subsidiary of the Lyondell Company (NYSE: LYO) are among the largest producers of titanium dioxide. On relative economies of scale alone, it's difficult to imagine how Altair's small manufacturing facility could match these behemoths on cost.
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