Buzzi Unicem’s turnover for the first nine months of 2008 improved by 4.1% to EUR2,724.7m, which represents an underlying sales growth of 5.7%. The EBITDA was ahead by 2.7% to EUR738.7m. Net debt at the end of September was 27.3% higher at EUR794.7m, which represents a gearing level of just 28.3%, giving Buzzi Unicem the strongest balance sheet among the leading international cement groups. Cement shipments for the nine months were 4.0% lower at 24.9Mt, with the volume reductions taking place essentially in the United States and in Italy, while good volume growth was achieved in Poland, the Ukraine and Germany. Ready-mixed concrete deliveries improved by 1.6% to 12.9Mm³.
Italy was a weak market over the period, and turnover declined by 9.8% to EUR658.6m and the EBITDA fell by 20.9% to EUR121.4m. Cement shipments, including exports, declined by 13.2%, while ready-mixed concrete deliveries were down by 16.2%. Market share has been recovered in recent months, after the group had concentrated on improving prices earlier in the year. Buzzi Unicem is closing its integrated works at Santarcangelo di Romagna in Central Italy by the end of the year. With the rising cost of energy, this plant is no longer competitive and capacity utilisation will then improve at the group’s remaining twelve Italian plants.
German turnover rose by 19.8% to EUR459.5m and the EBITDA improved by 24.4% to EUR76.5m on the back of increased domestic demand in the non-residential areas and higher exports to The Netherlands. Cement volumes rose by 4.1%, while ready-mixed concrete shipments added 12.8%, in part by increasing the scope of consolidation. Average revenues improved by 7% in cement and by 10% in ready-mixed concrete. Luxembourg turnover showed an underlying increase of 6.9% to EUR69.4m, with domestic cement deliveries 0.6% higher on slightly better prices. The Dutch turnover improved by 2.4% to EUR103.4m as ready-mixed concrete deliveries rose by 18.1%, but aggregates shipments declined.
Eastern European turnover improved by 38.2% to EUR736.2m and the EBITDA jumped by 65.4% to EUR311.5m, with Russia providing the strongest advance, followed by the Ukraine and Poland, helped by higher prices in all countries. While Czech cement shipments rose by a modest 1.2%, there was a 9.3% advance in Poland and a 7.1% increase in the Ukraine, but a 1.7% reduction at the capacity constrained Russian plant. Ready-mixed concrete volume shipments rose by 8.5% with prices improving, particularly in the Ukraine and in Poland