On a turnover 0.7% lower at €3520m, Buzzi Unicem’s EBITDA declined by 11.8% to €922.7 last year. The trading profit was down by 16.5% to €697.7m and the pre-tax profit by 21.2% to €650.3m, but helped by a lower tax charge, the net attributable profit was only reduced by 13.8% to €395.3m.
In Italy, turnover declined by 11.6% to €850.2m and the EBITDA decreased by 30.5% to €143.4m as the margin fell from 21.5% to 16.9%. Italian cement demand is expected to shrink by around 10% this year on the back of lower public works and housebuilding activity. None the less, some improvement in selling prices still looks possible. Last year, cement shipments were down by 13.2%, with export shipments falling faster than domestic deliveries. In Germany and the Benelux, cement deliveries are expected to be down by around 5% this year, but some price increases are expected, so the effect on margins should be relatively limited. The volume reduction in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic should also be relatively modest. The weaker zloty will depress turnover and profits in Poland, but Slovakia has now adopted the euro.
Further east, the outlook is less encouraging, with notably weaker demand in both the Ukraine and in Russia, on top of which the Ukrainian currency dropped in value by some 40% during the first two months of 2009 and the Russian rouble was down by 22%. Last year the reduction in cement volumes were still modest at –2.2%n the Ukraine and –3.0% in Russia.
In the United States, prices declined by 3.2% in local currency in 2008 and the turnover was down by 5.4% in local currency to US$1,103.1m, which translated into an 11.9% fall to €750.0m. The EBITDA dropped by 32.3% to €205.8m as the market weakness spread to the previously resilient Texas market in the autumn. Even if government measures start having a positive effect to cement demand in the final few months of the year, another year of double-digit reduction in cement demand must be expected this year.