Titan’s first quarter turnover declined by 9.5% to €307.9m while the EBITDA fell by 18.8% to €62.3m. At the pre-tax level the reduction was more marked, with a 51.8% drop to €22.1m, while the net attributable profit was 50.1% lower at €21.3m. The buying out of Lafarge’s share in the Egyptian joint venture and continued investment on the new production lines in Egypt and in Albania saw finance costs rise by 57.4% to €11.3m. Capital investment in the period amounted to €52.6m, of which around €44m were in Egypt and Albania, while for the full year group capital expenditure should be some 20% lower than in 2008. Net debt at the end of March stood at some €1,154m to give a gearing level of 77.9%.
Sales of cementitous materials declined by 11.9% to 3.25m tonnes, while aggregates shipments fell by 25.4% to 3.40m tonnes and ready-mixed concrete deliveries were a third lower at 0.92m m³. Lower volumes in south-eastern Europe and the USA were only partially offset by higher volumes in the eastern Mediterranean area, reflecting strong demand in Egypt and the initial consolidation of the Turkish joint venture.
Operations in Greece and Western Europe saw turnover fall by 28.3% to €108.4m, reflecting not only the economic downturn, but also a cold and prolonged winter. This led to a 48.9% reduction in the EBITDA to €19.6m. Domestic cement prices improved, but export prices were little changed overall. With lower demand in both the domestic and some traditional export markets, production levels at the four Greek cement works were reduced.
The activities in the rest of South Eastern Europe were worse affected than the Geek-based operations, with turnover being down by 38.1% to €31.8m and the EBITDA by 56.7% to €7.5m. First quarter prices showed an improvement on the same period last bear, but since then, prices have weakened in Bulgaria. Titan lost market share in Bulgaria as cheap imports from Turkey rose significantly. Imports from Greece to Albania have been gradually increased to build up market share ahead of the commissioning of the 1.5m tonnes per annum integrated works near Kruje towards the end of this year. The small minority interest in the Serbian subsidiary was acquired during April.
The US turnover fell by 16.7% to €100.9m, but in dollar terms the drop was more pronounced at 29.6% and the EBITDA fell by 29.5% to €9.3m. Cement demand in Virginia held up somewhat better than in Florida and the Carolinas. The environmental assessment of the Pennsuco quarry is still going on, with the US Army Corps of Engineers having issued a report for public consultation at the beginning of May. Any benefits from the economic stimulus programme are unlikely to be seen until well into the second half of the year.