(Adds earnings comparison, stock movement, unit info)
By Ernest Scheyder
Aug 7 (Reuters) - Albemarle Corp, the world's largest producer of lithium, tripled its quarterly profit, beating expectations, and raised its 2018 forecast on Tuesday as sales surge for the mineral used to make electric car batteries.
Shares of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company jumped 2.5 percent to $95.50 in after-hours trading.
The results reflect rising demand from Tesla Inc, Volkswagen AG and others for electric-powered automobiles, which are projected to comprise an increasingly larger share of the global auto market in the coming decades.
Albemarle posted second-quarter net income of $302.5 million, or $2.73 per share, compared with $103.3 million, or 92 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.
Excluding one-time items, Albemarle earned $1.36 per share. By that measure, analysts expected earnings of $1.28 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"We are confident in a strong 2018," Albemarle Chief Executive Luke Kissam said in a statement.
For the full year, Albemarle raised its revenue forecast to a range of $3.3 billion to $3.5 billion, in what would be at least a 7 percent increase over 2017.
Lithium sales jumped 30 percent during the latest period to $317.6 million.
Sales also jumped in the company's Bromine Specialties and Catalysts divisions, which make specialty chemicals used in fire extinguishers and refineries. Kissam and other executives have spoken openly about a strategy of using excess cash from the two smaller divisions to fund lithium expansions.
Albemarle plans to hold a conference call to discuss the quarterly results on Wednesday morning. (Reporting by Ernest Scheyder, Editing by Richard Pullin)