Chief Financial Officer at Albemarle
Okay. Sorry about that. I was on mute. Thanks, Kent and good morning, everyone. I'll begin on Slide 12.
For the fourth quarter, we generated net sales of $894 million which is an increase of $15 million compared to the prior year quarter. This was driven by higher sales from lithium and bromine, partially offset by the loss of revenue from our Fine Chemistry Services business which was sold in June 2021. Excluding FCS, we grew by 11%. The fourth quarter net loss attributable to Albemarle was $4 million, reflecting an increased cost estimate to construct our Kemerton lithium hydroxide plant due to anticipated cost overruns from the impact of pandemic-related issues on the supply chain and labor. Fourth quarter adjusted diluted EPS of $1.01 was down 14% from the prior year. The primary adjustment to EPS is the $1.13 add-back of that Kemerton revision.
Let's turn to Slide 13 for more detail on adjusted EBITDA performance. Excluding FCS, fourth quarter adjusted EBITDA was up 12% from the prior year. Lithium results remained strong driven by higher volumes as well as higher pricing. Bromine results were roughly flat year-over-year, reflecting strong performance in late 2020 and repeating it in 2021. And Catalyst improved in the fourth quarter as refinery markets continue to rebound and the business saw benefits from one-time items. Our second half sales grew 13% from the first half of the year, following a relatively flat growth since mid-2020. This acceleration of growth is expected to continue into 2022.
On Slide 14, you can see we are expecting both volume and pricing growth in all three of our business units in 2022. We expect net sales of between $4.2 billion to $4.5 billion and adjusted EBITDA in the range of $1.15 billion to $1.3 billion. This implies an adjusted EBITDA margin of between 27% and 29%. Adjusted diluted EPS and net cash from operations are also expected to improve year-over-year. We anticipate healthy growth in adjusted EBITDA in all four quarters this year and we expect Q1 to be the strongest quarter for several reasons.
All three GBUs are expected to benefit from lower-cost inventory sold at prices that have been raised in anticipation of inflation. In the first quarter, lithium also has the benefit of strong shipments from our Talison joint venture to our partner as well as a onetime spodumene sales material produced at Wodgina on initial start-up in 2019. And finally, going forward, higher spodumene transfer pricing increases are going to increase our cost of sales and only partially be offset by higher Talison joint venture income which is included in our EBITDA after tax. And this creates a tax-impacted EBITDA margin drive.
As Kent mentioned, capex is expected to increase to the $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion range this year as we accelerate lithium investments to meet increased customer demand. The key actions to meet or exceed this guidance include, first, successful execution of our lithium project start-ups; second, closing the acquisition in China; third, solid performance at our sold-out plants in lithium, bromine and FCC catalysts; fourth, continued strength in our end-use markets and favorable pricing environment; and lastly, solid procurements to combat inflation.
Let's turn to Slide 15 for more details by GBU. Lithium's full year 2022 EBITDA is expected to be up 65% to 85%, a significant improvement from our previous outlook. We now expect volume growth to be up 20% to 30% for the year with the new capacity coming online as well as ongoing efficiency improvements. Average realized pricing is now expected to increase 40% to 45% compared to 2021 due to strong market pricing as well as the expiration of pricing concessions originally agreed to in late 2019. In some cases, as these concessions rolled off, pricing reverted to legacy contracts with significantly higher variable pricing. And as we've been saying, we've also taken the opportunity to work with our strategic customers to renegotiate contracts to more variable rate structures.
Catalyst EBITDA is expected to be up 5% to 15%. This is below our previous outlook, primarily due to cost pressures related to high natural gas pricing in Europe and raw material inflation. Volumes are expected to grow across segments with overall refining markets improving. We continue to see volumes returning to pre-pandemic levels in late 2022 or 2023. FCC volumes are already there but HPC volumes are lagging. Bromine EBITDA is expected to be up 5% to 10%, slightly above our previous outlook based on strong flame retardant demand supported by macro trends, such as digitalization and electrification. Volumes are expected to increase based on the expansions we began in 2021. And as discussed, higher pricing and ongoing cost and efficiency improvements are expected to offset higher freight and raw material costs.
Now turning to Slide 16, I'll provide some additional color on lithium volume growth. This slide shows the expected lithium production volume ramp from the new conversion facilities we expect to complete this year. We begin the year with a baseload production of 88,000 metric tons in 2021 which includes Silver Peak, Kings Mountain, Xinyu, Chengdu and La Negra I and II. And you can see that this is virtually a 50/50 split of carbonate and hydroxide. As our Wave II projects come online, output will begin to favor hydroxide.
Generally speaking, we expect it to take about two years to ramp to full conversion capacity at a new plant, including approximately six months for commissioning and qualification. Therefore, we expect to reach our full 200,000 tons of conversion production by early 2025.
Before I turn it back to Kent, I'd like to update you on our capital allocation priorities and I'll turn to Slide 17 to do that. Our capital allocation priorities remain the same. Our primary focus is to invest in profitable growth opportunities, particularly for lithium and bromine. Strategic portfolio management and maintaining financial flexibility are important levers to support this growth. For example, we have divested noncore businesses like FCS and reallocated funds to organic and inorganic growth opportunities, like the expected acquisition of the Qinzhou plant.
The strategic review of Catalyst is progressing well and is on track for us to make an announcement of the outcome in the first half of this year. We'll also continue to evaluate bolt-on acquisitions to accelerate growth or bolster our portfolio of top-tier assets. As always, future dividends and share repurchases are subject to Board approval. However, we expect to continue to support our dividend. Given the outsized growth opportunities we see in lithium, we don't anticipate share repurchases in the foreseeable future.
And with that, I'll turn it back to Kent.