HeidelbergCement sees comfort in China

HeidelbergCement sees comfort in China
Published: 08 May 2009

HeidelbergCement’s first quarter turnover declined by 23.9% to €2,359.4m and the EBITDA fell by 49.6% to €201.6m.  The trading profit dropped by 94.2% to €11.3m, while at the pre-tax level there was a swing from a €14.9m profit to a loss of €195.0m, in spite of a 30.4% drop in the net interest charge to €136.8m.  Capital investment was down by 32.4% to €132.8m, while spending on acquisitions dropped by 81.6% to €9.9m.  Net debt of €12,076m was 0.7% lower than a year ago and represented a gearing level of 140.3%, compared with 149.3% a year earlier. 

The cement and clinker shipments were down by 18.1% to 16.0m tonnes, with the strongest reduction being experienced in North America.  International trading volumes declined by 24.7% to 1.8m tonnes, with a 32.7% increase in cement volumes to 0.75Mt being insufficient to compensate for the 45.4% drop in clinker shipments 0.86Mt.  Shipments of aggregates fell by 25.5% to 44.5Mt and ready-mixed concrete deliveries were down by 24.0% to 7.6Mm³, with the asphalt volume being a comparatively modest 8.7% lower at 1.8Mt.  

In the group’s European region, the turnover fell by 31.3% to €1,082m and the EBITDA shrunk by 73.7% to €57m.  Sales of cementitious materials were down by 23.5% to 6.84Mt. The strongest volume reductions were seen in Great Britain and in Eastern Europe, other than Poland and Bosnia-Hercegovina.  Reduced domestic demand in Sweden and Norway was largely compensated for by increased exports.  Good volume improvements have been seen in Germany and Poland in March and April, but it remains yet to be seen whether this is more than waking up for weather related volume losses in previous months. 

North American turnover fell by 23.6% to €621m, or by 37.5% in dollar terms, and the EBITDA dropped from a €37m profit into a €2m loss as on top of the recession, the seasonal factors were more severe than the norm.  Sales of cementitious materials were down by 28.8% to 2.12Mt and the company’s cement imports were further reduced.