Having lost US$581m at the pre-tax level in 2008, it went on to lose a further US$337m last year and USG expects another ’challenging’ year in 2010. Turnover last year fell by 29.8% to US$3,236m, while a modestly positive EBITDA of US$42 was generated, compared with a US$6m loss in the previous year.
The balance sheet shows a net debt of US$1,272m compared with shareholders; funds of US$930m. Capital expenditure was cut from US$238m in 2008 to US$44m last year and is set to remain at below US$50m in 2010. With USG’s capacity utilisation currently being below 50%, it will concentrate on running plants with the lowest delivered cost.
While the US gypsum operations lost money last year, it returned to profit in the final quarter, having cut costs yet further and the Canadian and Mexican operations were profitable in 2009. USG and Lafarge North America have reached a settlement in their patents dispute, under which USG will receive a payment of US$105m in return for granting Lafarge a fully paid-up licence for the use of certain USG processes. The distribution subsidiary, L&W Supply saw turnover fall by 35.3% and generated a US$63m trading loss and the number of outlets have been cut by close to 40% in recent years. Worldwide Ceilings has remained in spite of a 21.6% reduction in sales.