Holcim Ltd reported a fall in net profit to SwFr74m (US$64m) compared with CHF370m a year ago.
Sales declined to CHF4.52bn from CHF5.51bn and operating profit to CHF343m from CHF737m.
Operating earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or operating EBITDA, declined by 34% to CHF763m. The operating EBITDA margin reached 16.9% compared with 20.9%. Cash flow from operating activities was negative in the first quarter as expected.
Because of the difficult economic environment, the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee still refrain from communicating any predictions about the Group’s performance in 2009.
In the first quarter of 2009, the economic crisis deepened and spread to more countries. However, there are still markets where construction activity remains solid, which benefited Holcim thanks to its global network and the strong presence in Latin America and Asia.
Business in Europe and North America strongly suffered from the economic downturn and the severe and prolonged winter. Holcim achieved organic growth in Ebitda in the Group regions Latin America and Asia Pacific. Remarkable progress was also made versus the fourth quarter, particularly in India. Overall, Africa and the Middle East reported only a moderate downturn.
The cost-cutting program ongoing at all levels and the rapid reduction in capacity had a positive impact on fixed costs. Holcim succeeded in scaling back expenses in administration, sales and distribution.
Investments in property, plant and equipment for maintenance and financial investments were significantly reduced. However, the 2009 - 2012 capacity expansion program largely continued as planned, even though the associated investments were somewhat lower than in the first quarter of 2008.