Greek cement producer Titan saw first quarter turnover decline by 7.1% to EUR286.1m while the EBITDA suffered slightly less, easing by 5.1% to EUR61.2m. At the pre-tax level the profit reduction shrunk by 3.9% drop to EUR21.2m but the net attributable profit actually increased by 16.2% to EUR24.8m, helped by a US tax credit against the period’s losses. With the completion of most of the new production facilities in Egypt and in Albania, capital investment in the period dropped by 63.1% to EUR19.4m. Net debt at the end of March was 14.4% lower at EUR988m to give a gearing level of 63.7%, down from 77.9% a year earlier, and is being further reduced by selling a stake of up to 16% in the Egyptian subsidiary to the IFC for EUR80m.
Turnover in Greece and the rest of Western Europe edged ahead by 0.3% to €108.7m and the EBITDA moved up by 0.9% to EUR21.9m. Domestic cement prices remained stable and the reduction in the average selling price that resulted from an increased portion of cement sales coming from export sales, was largely compensated for by lower kiln fuel costs. The turnover was also boosted somewhat from the higher volumes at the Greek works. The profit contribution from the sale of emission permits was negligible, but could become an alternative source of income, should export demand weaken.
Cement volumes in the rest of South Eastern Europe were down in all markets, and particularly so in the case of Bulgaria, where prices also declined, unlike in the other markets, where they remained pretty stable. The benefits of lower fuel costs were also seen across the region. Having been supplied out of Greece during the period, the new integrated 1.5Mta. Albanian cement works went on-stream in April.
The US turnover fell by a further 29.6% to EUR71m as cement volumes declined and prices were eroded in a US market that was still deteriorating. The deterioration in demand is still continuing in Florida, but demand levels have now stabilised in Titan’s more northerly markets, such as New York and New Jersey.
The Eastern Mediterranean business, consisting of Egypt and Turkey, increased turnover by 21.2% to EUR81.1m and the EBITDA advanced by 29.9% to EUR33.6m, in spite of a weakening of the Egyptian pound. Egyptian cement demand remains very strong, and in spite of the second production line at Beni Suef, that added an annual 1.5Mt, working for the full period, Egyptian production needed to be supplemented by imports from within the Titan group.