HeidelbergCement's first half turnover improved by 2.0% to €5,476.0m and the EBITDA rose by 3.4% to €864.8m while the trading profit advanced by 3.7% to €474.1m. The net interest charge was 2.2% higher at €297.1m, while the pre-tax profit was distorted by exceptional items and dropped by 85.7% to €23.1m. Net debt at the end of June was 19.8% lower at €9,066m, giving a gearing of 71.0% compared with 124.2% a year earlier. Capital expenditure in the six months was 2.9% lower to €266m, while spending on acquisitions rose by 62.5% to €26m.
Cement and clinker deliveries declined by 1.6% to 37.1m tonnes, while aggregates shipments were a marginal 0.1% higher at 108.3m tonnes and the ready-mixed concrete deliveries volume was off by 2.0% to 16.4m m³. HC Trading increased cement and clinker volumes by 15.4% to 5.0m tonnes, with a modest reduction in cement shipments being more than offset by a notable advance in the clinker volume traded. Turnover from trading in cementitious materials and fuel generated a turnover 33.6% higher at €346m, but the EBITDA dropped by 60.6% to €10m.
The Western and Northern European operations saw turnover decline by 2.9% to €1,808m and the EBITDA was 15.5% lower at €226m. Cement and clinker deliveries declined by 8.9% to 9.4m tonnes, with most markets recording lower volumes, only in the United Kingdom was there a slight increase from a very low level and volumes in Sweden and Norway were maintained, helped by improved export shipments. German domestic cement prices were slightly higher. British slag volumes were still well down and German cement production declined on the back of lower exports and delayed public expenditure. Aggregates shipments recovered in the second quarter and volumes for the period rose by 4.7% to 32.9m tonnes. While a recovery was also being seen in ready-mixed concrete, this was insufficient to make up for the winter losses and the volume ended 5.4% lower at 5.6m m³. The asphalt volume was off by 1.4% to 2,0m tonnes, while building products saw turnover drop by 20.8%. The turnover in cement was off by 3.0% to €767m, but in aggregates there as a 17.1% improvement to €367m.
In the Eastern European and Central Asian activities suffered a 19.0% reduction in turnover to €482m and the EBITDA fell by 29.9% to €95m. Cement deliveries fell by 18.1% to 6.1m tonnes, thanks to an unfavourable winter and spring on top of underlying weak demand in many areas. Modest improvements were seen in Russia, Kazakhstan and Georgia and the Ukraine almost reached the previous first half volume. Severe flooding hit Poland and Rumania, delaying the recovery there, but Poland has been performing strongly from June onwards. Aggregates shipments fell by 10.4% to 7.8m tonnes and ready-mixed concrete deliveries by 11.3% to 1.6m m³. Turnover in cement declined by 21.8% to €372m, while in aggregates there was 2.6% reduction to €48m. Cement prices in Kazakhstan are improving as the Russian import pressure has eased.
Asia Pacific turnover advanced by 22.1% to €1,251m and the EBITDA rose by 36.5% to €361m. The cement and clinker volume increased by 11.4% to 13.1m tonnes, which generated a turnover 38.7% higher at €758m. The region has benefited from Chinese measures to boost the economy, which made its presence felt as far as Australia, an important supplier of raw materials to the Chinese industry. The Chinese joint venture s in Guandong and Shaanxi increase cement shipments by 3.8%, while Indocement in Indonesia increased total volumes by 10.1% while reducing exports to satisfy domestic demand and two cement mills with a total annual capacity of 1.5m tonnes have recently been commissioned. Additional capacity is under construction in Indonesia and in Bangladesh. The aggregates operations, dominated by Australia, saw volumes decline by 5.8% to 15.4m tonnes, but the ready-mixed concrete volume, dependent mainly on Australia and Indonesia, rose by 4.7% to 4.2m m³.
North American turnover declined by a further 4.0% to €1,363m, but the EBITDA recovered by 24.8% to €147m thanks to a lower cost base and improved Canadian demand. Deliveries of cementitious materials were 1.8% lower at 4.6m tonnes. Only on the US West Coast were second quarter volumes showing a reduction, while overall there was an 8.6% increase. Aggregates deliveries rose by 2.2% to 46.2m tonnes in the six months and Canadian pricing was strong. Asphalt sales rose by 10.4% to 1.2m tonnes, but ready-mixed concrete deliveries were still 9.4% lower at 2.6m m³. Building product volumes were still down in most product areas. While the turnover in cement was 2.7% lower at €411m, aggregates sales recorded a 5.7% advance to €403m.
Africa & the Mediterranean produced a turnover 4.7% higher at €459m, but the EBITDA deteriorated by 7.1% to €77m. Cement and clinker shipments in the region rose by 13.8% to 4.1m tonnes. Cement sales in Africa improved by 6.7% on the back of higher demand in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Liberia, Togo and Tanzania. The Turkish joint venture increased the sales of cementitious materials by 27.7% thanks to strong domestic demand and increased export shipments and domestic prices in Turkey have recently been increased. Sales of aggregates fell by 9.3% to 7.0m tonnes as the drop in Spain weighed heavier than the improvement in Turkey. Asphalt volumes also declined, but ready-mixed concrete deliveries improved by 11.4% to 2.5m m³.