Italcementi's first quarter turnover declined by 10.7% to €1,072.5m, while the running EBITDA fell by 28.2% to €135.7m and the trading profit dropped by 63.0% to €23.9m. At the pre-tax level, there was a swing from a €36.9m profit into a €12.3m loss and the net loss widened from €12.7m to €37.5m. The net debt at the end of March was reduced by 12.2% to €2,360.7m to give a gearing level of 48.5%, down from 57.8% a year earlier. The sale of emission rights yielded €3m in the quarter and further sales are likely during the year.
Cement and clinker sales were 5.0% lower at 12.3Mt, though international trading activities increased volumes by 64% to 1.2Mt and boosted turnover by 31.6% to €64.7m, helped by increased inter-group sales in the direction of Egypt, and its EBITDA improved by 16.4% to €3.0m. Aggregates deliveries declined by 10.7% to 8.1Mt and ready-mixed concrete volumes came off by 4.2% to 2.4m m³. With Calcestruzzi still remaining outside the sphere of consolidation, the most recent court ruling suggests that the seized assets may soon be returned.
Western European cement and clinker volumes declined by 9.5% to 4.14Mt, with Italian shipments being down by 0.2Mt to 1.9Mt. Consolidated aggregates volumes were down by 11.4% to 7.37 tonnes and ready-mixed concrete deliveries reclined by 10.2% to 1.25m m³. The Italian cement and clinker volumes fell by 7.4%, which was a better performance than the market, but prices continued to weaken, in part offset by lower fuel prices and lower overheads. Turnover in Italy fell by 14.6% to €160.2m and a €6.6m loss was incurred at the EBITDA level. In France and Belgium, turnover declined by 9.4% to €325.9m and the EBITDA fell by 21.4% to €42.6m, with cement volumes being down by 10.2% in France and by 18.5% in the Benelux. Aggregates deliveries were down by 6.8% in France and by 23.7% in Belgium, while ready-mixed concrete volumes declined by 8.6% and 10.0% respectively. In Spain, turnover fell by 21.4% to €44.3m, but thanks to cost control and a lower fuel bill the EBITDA actually improved by 20.5% to €8.8m with, volumes being down by 17.4% in cement, by 17.2% in aggregates and by 25.6% in ready-mixed concrete. In Greece, turnover was down by 9.5% to €17.3m, though cement volumes were maintained, thanks to increased exports.
Egyptian turnover eased by 2.0% to €213.7m as power cuts disrupted production, but domestic deliveries were still 1.5% ahead and Italcementi imported clinker from other parts of the group in order to satisfy demands. The EBITDA fell by 16.9% to €61.8m, but it was still the largest profit earner in the group. Thanks to the new capacity that came on stream last November, Moroccan cement shipments grew by 2.2% in a market that was off by a similar percentage. Turnover was 0.5% ahead at €80.8m and the EBITDA improved by 2.0% to €31.0m. The results from the rest of the region, which consists of Bulgaria, Turkey and some Middle East markets, fared less well, with turnover down by 22.2% to €46.9m and a €0.8m loss being incurred at the EBITDA level. Bulgaria continued to suffer badly from Turkish imports, in a market that was down by 49% in volume terms. The Turkish domestic volumes were stable and exports improved a little while ready-mixed concrete deliveries rose by 23%. Ready-mixed sales in Kuwait also improved.
Asian sales declined. This was particularly the case in India, where turnover fell by 20.2% to €39.5m and the EBITDA dropped by 60.8% to €8.0m. Competitive pressures have increased in Southern India, but domestic cement and clinker volumes improved by 3.8% in the quarter and clinker production started at the Yerraguntla works in late March. Prices appear now to have stabilised at lower levels. The Thai market remains difficult and turnover declined by 4.2% to €41.6m with the EBITDA falling by 17.3% to €6.0m. The continued weakness in clinker exports led to a total volume drop of 2.9%, though domestic cement shipments recovered by 4.8% and ready-mixed concrete volumes were little changed. In Kazakhstan, the group made good progress with cement volumes improving by 42%, but had to bear higher energy costs. In China, Italcementi increased cement volumes but reduced clinker sales as commercial policy was adjusted.
The North American turnover declined by 17.4% to €61.5m and the EBITDA loss widened from €9m to €17.1m. Adverse weather conditions led to an 11.8% reduction in cement volumes to 0.60Mt, which was a better performance than the market, as helped by the new plant at Martinsburg, Italcementi has been regaining some share in a falling market. Average cement prices continued to decline. Ready-mixed concrete volumes declined by 15.0% to 0.11Mt and aggregates shipments more than doubled to 0.19Mt.