French cement producer Ciments Francais reported that the improved pace in the construction sector activity in the first quarter was supported by much more favourable weather conditions than in 1Q 2010 in Europe and North America. Most of the emerging countries still enjoyed dynamic growth, particularly in Asia, while Egypt suffered from a temporary suspension of business activity due to the political crisis.
Group sales volumes increased in all three business segments: +3.2% for cement and clinker at 10.3Mt, + 6.1% for aggregates at 8.6Mt and +14.4% for ready mix concrete at 2.4Mm3.
In cement and clinker, sales volumes increased in France/Belgium (+21.9%), India (+24.5%), Thailand (+9.1%), North America (+6.8%) and Morocco (+5.5%). Volumes dropped in Egypt (-13.0%) and Spain (-7.5%).
First-quarter consolidated revenues at EUR972.6m (+7.0% compared with the year-earlier period) increased in India (+53.3%), Thailand (+30.4%), France/Belgium (+20.5%), Morocco (+5.1%) and North America (+3.7%). They decreased in Egypt (-21.6%) and Spain (-12.4%).
EBITDA amounted to EUR146.6m, a minor increase (+2.0%) primarily due to higher energy costs despite a favourable effect from the sale of CO2 emission rights (EUR5.8m) and lower taxes on raw materials in Egypt. EBIT was down 7.1% at EUR56.8m mainly because of an increase in amortisation and depreciation related to the commissioning of new plants.
Net consolidated Group profit totalled EUR142.1m (including the impact of the sale of Set Group Holding for EUR109.1m) as against EUR28.1m in 1Q10.
Going forward, the group’s performance for 2011 should reflect positive trends reported in India, Thailand and Morocco, thus offsetting the drop in Egypt considering the country’s political situation. In Western countries, the demand for major projects is expected to continue to suffer from public deficits, mitigating the first signs of recovery emerging in the early months of the year, particularly in France. The sales pricing policy will seek to compensate for the continued increase in energy costs and inflation.