Cemex' first-quarter turnover advanced by 11.2%, or an underlying 9%, to US$3384.1m and the EBITDA edged ahead by 0.7% to US$518.2m. The trading profit recovered by 16.1% to US$172.3m and, after a net interest charge 9.1% higher at US$336.3m and other financial items, the pre-tax loss was reduced by 25.8% to US$172.1m. The net debt was 2.3% lower than a year earlier at US$17,575m and with shareholders' funds being 1% lower at US$15,952.2m, the gearing level emerged at 110.2%. Cement shipments in the first quarter were 5.6% higher at 15.27Mt, with aggregates production being 8.2% higher at 35.17Mt and ready-mixed concrete deliveries rising by 14.2% to 12.28Mm³. Volumes were generally higher in Mexico and in Europe, but lower in the USA. The usage of alternative fuels, which stood at 20.3% last year, is expected to rise to some 25% this year and the target is to get to 35% in 2015.

Mexican turnover rose by 13.6% to US$842.2m and the EBITDA improved by 13.1% to US$291.8m, while the trading profit advanced by 15.9% to US$256.0m. Domestic cement deliveries were 1% higher in the quarter. For the full year, private housebuilding activity is expected to rise by around 5%, with increases of some 4% being expected in both the infrastructure spending and commercial building. Average cement prices were ahead by around 5% in local currency, and improved by approximately 11% in US dollar terms. The US turnover has continued to decline and fell by a further 8.2% to US$506.6m. The loss at the EBITDA level was more than doubled to US$23.4m (+105.0%) and the trading loss increased by 5.7% to US$191m as weather conditions were unfavourable, notably in Georgia, California and the Mid-West, and a restructuring of the business in Arizona led to halving of volume there. Cemex has further lowered its expectations for the US residential sector because of the amount of unsold properties over-hanging the market, but some strength is evident in the infrastructure field. Cemex' US cement volumes declined by a further 4%, and prices were off by a further 3%, but price increases are now beginning stick.

In Europe, turnover rose by 23.6% to US$1170.6m, helped by less unfavourable weather conditions than in the previous year in most countries and the EBITDA went from a US$0.9m loss in 2010 to a US$49.7m profit, while at the trading level the seasonal loss was reduced by 62.3% to US$30.9m. Spain saw a further weakness in demand and in cement prices, which fell by 5% and Cemex managed to compensate for the weakness in the domestic market by increasing exports in the quarter by some 30% and domestic cement deliveries recovered by approximately 5% because of the weather effect. In Great Britain, cement deliveries rose by 20% and the average price recovered by some 2%. Germany, which saw cement volumes rebound by 60% thanks to a milder winter, still saw cement prices drift by 4%. Poland – benefiting not only from the weather effect, but also from strong growth in civil engineering activity – increased cement deliveries by 53% at stable prices. In France, where Cemex does not sell cement, downstream volumes were strong.

In South America, Central America and the Caribbean, turnover advanced by 7.9% to US$396.4m, but the EBITDA declined by 7.6% to US$116.7m and the trading profit fell by 9.6% to US$97.7m. Cement volumes improved by 4% and prices by 1% in local currency and by 3% in US dollar. Colombia is the biggest South American market and Cemex cement volumes there were off by 2% there while prices were 1% higher. Initial cement deliveries to the Panama Canal project were started in the quarter.

Turnover in Africa and the Middle East was affected by the unrest in Egypt, Cemex’ most important market in this region, and the turnover declined by 5.8% to US$248.4m and the EBITDA was off by 4.3% to US$79.9m and the trading profit by just 2.5% to US$68.9m. Domestic cement deliveries in the region were off by 7% and prices by 2% in local currency, while Egyptian cement volumes declined by 6%.

Asian turnover was off by 2.3% to US$121.7m, while the EBITDA fell by 35.9% to US$21.1m and the trading profit by 43.9% to US$15.6m. In the Philippines, domestic deliveries declined by 12% and prices by 4%, but for the region as a whole, cement volumes were off by just 5% and prices by 4%, though stable in US dollar terms.