Issue Date: June 13, 2011
JSR Plans Ahead
The top executives of JSR, a Japanese producer of synthetic rubber and electronic materials, spent the past two years conceiving a strategic plan covering the next 10 years. They unveiled the new road map a few weeks ago.
Under the plan, the company will continue to develop advanced materials for the electronics industry. But JSR will also place renewed emphasis on its traditional synthetic rubber business while seeking to develop new materials for use in the energy and medical fields.
It may seem foolhardy for a company to plan all the way to 2020, but the likelihood of certain future events is strong, says Nobu Koshiba, president of JSR. For instance, within a few years the semiconductor industry will reach the limits of how small conventional integrated circuits can be. So it makes sense for JSR to consider what new circuit technologies will replace the current ones.
Other Japanese companies make strategic plans, says Joel Scheiman, a Tokyo-based chemical analyst at brokerage firm MF Global. “Medium-term plans are published by all kinds of Japanese chemical companies, and given all the things that can occur in business, the three-year plans very rarely seem to occur,” he says. “But I would say that JSR has shown a pretty good ability to stay close to the leading edge in the businesses it focuses on, especially in electronic materials.”
JSR expects to achieve substantial financial goals under its new plan. The company is focused on reaching a market capitalization of $12 billion by 2020, or three times what it is worth now, Koshiba says. Shorter term, JSR aims to achieve net annual profit of $420 million within two years, up from the $315 million the company posted in the fiscal year that ended March 31, he adds. Sales would increase from $4.2 billion to $5.6 billion in the same time frame. By 2013, JSR will employ 5,700 people, up from 5,200 today, Koshiba says.
Rubber will play a big role in JSR’s growth story. “We think we can be globally competitive in butyl rubber and solution-polymerized styrene-butadiene rubber [S-SBR],” says Koshiba, who became president in 2009 after spending most of his career in JSR’s electronic materials business. Under Koshiba, JSR has teamed up with ExxonMobil Chemical to produce butyl rubber, which is used to make tire inner tubes. The Japanese company has started to build a plant in Thailand to produce S-SBR, used to make tire treads (C&EN, May 30, page 35).
In coming years, JSR will launch a steady stream of new materials for use in electronics and other industries. For instance, the company has begun to supply polyimide materials that can reduce by 75% the response time of liquid crystals. This advance should enable the manufacture of televisions that display images in three dimen sions, a feature that Koshiba expects to be standard on most TVs before long.
In addition, JSR is developing a line of materials to boost the capacity of batteries, capacitors, and other energy storage devices. Better energy storage is essential to the continued deployment of renewable energy, Koshiba notes. “To improve the performance of batteries and capacitors, materials are the key,” he says.
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