With a gearing of 34.7% at the end of December, compared with 30.0%, Vicat maintains one of the strongest balance sheets in the sector, with net debt of 678m comparing with an equity of EUR1,954m. Capital investment was 23.2% higher at €383m and a further EUR83m were spent on acquisitions. This year, capital expenditure is expected to be in the order of €380m, including the investment in new cement plants in India and in Kazakhstan. The turnover declined year by 3.7% in absolute terms and by 3.0% on a comparative basis to EUR2,057.0m, while the EBITDA was off by 10.9% to EUR528.3m. The trading profit was down by 18.3% to EUR392.2m and after a 40.8% increase in the net financial charge to EUR25.9m, the pre-tax profit declined by 17.9% to EUR356.3m and the net attributable profit emerged 18.1% lower at EUR245.3m.
By activity, turnover in cement was 1.2% lower, but improved by 0.4% on a comparative basis, to EUR1,142m, with the EBITDA declining by 6.5% to EUR388m. In concrete and aggregates operations, the negative impact on the profit was rather greater with a 25.6% reduction to EUR109m on a turnover that was 7.2% lower at EUR882m, as volumes declined by 5.2% in ready-mixed concrete and by 4.4% in aggregates. In other activities, turnover was off by 2.3% to EUR361m while the EBITDA was 2.0% lower at EUR31m. Vicat’s cement deliveries increased by 0.4% higher to 14.21m tonnes last year, while aggregates shipments declined by 4.4% to 21.58m tonnes and ready-mixed concrete deliveries were down by 5.2% to 8.73Mm³.
In France, the deteriorating economic climate made itself felt in the final quarter, when shipments began to decline. Turnover was off by 1.0% to 1,017m and the EBITDA declined by 4.0% to EUR262m as price increases did not fully cover increased costs and lower volumes, though in cement, the price increase and reduced purchases of clinker compensated for the slight reduction in volumes. Elsewhere in Europe, turnover was off by 0.6% to EUR283m and the EBITDA was 4.1% lower at EUR67m. The Swiss EBITDA was affected by the need to buy in both clinker and cement and declined by 2.6%, while the Italian business was more negatively affected by lower volumes and increased competitive pressures leading to a 12.3% reduction in the EBITDA.