Italcementi was the largest of the cement producers not to have a rights issue in 2009 and, with a gearing of 55.0% at the end of September, still has a notably stronger balance sheet than any of the four larger peers. Capital expenditure in 2009 should amount to around €750m, but is expected to come back to some €500m in 2010, as four major projects are drawing to a close. The failure of the merger with Ciments Français, its principal French subsidiary and holding vehicle for all international assets, should have no serious effects as the two companies are effectively run as one.
The EBITDA in the fourth quarter should see a similar rate of decline as in the first nine months, suggesting a full year figure of close to €990m. Capital expenditure is primarily on four major projects, three of which will partially come on stream in the year. Kiln firing took place at the 2.3Mt per annum Yarraguntla works in India in September and cement grinding should in the first quarter of 2010. Cement grinding at the 2.2Mt per annum Ait Baha works in Morocco started in November and the kiln should be lit next April. The 2.0Mt per annum Martinsburg plant in had its kiln lie in October, with cement grinding starting up in December. The expansion and m modernisation programme at the Madera works in Italy should be completed by the spring, taking the capacity up to 0.9Mt. Capacity is also in the process of being expanded at the group's Cypriot associate.
Cement volumes are lower in all six European countries where Italcementi has integrated operations, with prices being stable in France and in Greece, but weaker in Italy, Belgium, Spain and Bulgaria, with Bulgaria being affected by imports from Turkey and prices falling in the second half. Volumes in Turkey are lower, but increases are recorded for both Egypt and Morocco, with prices being higher in Morocco and stable in Egypt, even though the Egyptian currency rose against the euro. The scope to sell cement on the Egyptian market is being limited by a shortage of production capacity. In Thailand, volumes showed some recovery in the second half but prices have remained under pressure, but are expected to improve in 2010 along with volumes. Prices have been weaker in Italcementi's markets in India, China and Kazakhstan, though volumes improved in both India and China. The markets served by the group in Puerto Rico, the USA and Canada are currently reasonably stable at the lower levels established earlier. The international trading activities have suffered from the reduced opportunities but the throughput at the marine terminals in Albania, Mauritania and Kuwait holding up well and were up by 3.7% at the end of September.
Cement and clinker deliveries for the first nine months were 12.7% lower at 42.2Mt. Shipments of aggregates declined by 19.7% to 29.7Mt and ready-mixed concrete deliveries fell by 21.6% to 8.4m m³, with batching plants being closed in Spain and Turkey in response to falling demand.