Vicat increased turnover last year by 2.6% in absolute terms and by 4.3% on a comparative basis to EUR2,136m. The EBITDA improved by 5.1% to EUR593m as margins improved from 27.1% to 27.8%. The trading profit advanced by 8.7% to EUR480m and the net attributable profit by 6.1% to €299m. Capital investment increased by 38.8% to EUR311m and a further EUR156m went into acquisitions, while in 2008 capital expenditure should amount to some EUR220m in cement and EUR60m for the downstream businesses. Net debt at the end of the year stood at EUR515m, which translates into a gearing level of 30.0%, with the equity standing at EUR1,717m.
In France, turnover improved by 5.0% to 1,027m and the EBIDA by 9.8% to EUR272m, while the strongest growth came from Africa and the Middle East where sales rose by 17.2% to EUR259m and the EBITDA by 34.6% to EUR101m. Elsewhere in Europe a 9.8% increase in turnover to €285m was entirely attributable to downstream acquisitions in Switzerland. Reduced construction activity and a weaker currency saw the US sales figure decline by 13.5% to EUR364m and the EBITDA dropped by 24.0% to EUR83m. In Turkey, there was a more modest reduction in turnover of 1.3% to EUR201m but the EBITDA did improve by 3.8% to EUR67m, while Africa and the Middle East produced an underlying increase of 19.8% to EUR259m and the EBITDA jumped by 34.6% to EUR101m.
Turnover in cement improved rose by 5.6%, or by 7.8% on a comparative basis, to EUR1,156m while cement deliveries increased by 2.6% to 14.21Mt and the EBITDA improved by 9.9% to EUR415m. The French cement turnover advanced by 7.3% to EUR455m, helped by better prices and an improved mix, but volumes were only marginally higher at 3.90Mt. Elsewhere in Europe, volumes were 1.2% lower at 1.23m tonnes, while cement turnover amounted to €122m, with a 6.4% increase in Switzerland, in spite of some major projects having been completed, partially offset by a 1.6% decline in a weak Italian market.
In the United States, there was a 3.0% increase in turnover entirely thanks to higher prices. Volumes declined in California in the final quarter but held up in the areas served by the Alabama plant, giving a total tonnage 0.8% lower at 2.13m tonnes. Californian cement deliveries are expected to continue do decline in 2008, but there should be a modest improvement in Alabama. The Turkish cement turnover rose by 3.8% to EUR162m, in spite of an intensively competitive market, thanks to taking advantage of trading opportunities both in the export and domestic markets and shipments improved by 1.5% to 2.97Mt. Domestic cement prices are declining in 2008, but the elimination of the need to buy in clinker, as the new kiln at Bastas came on stream towards the end of 2007, should help results and cement exports are being developed.
Elsewhere, the turnover of EUR243m was the result of increases of 16.8% in Senegal and of 21.6% in Egypt, with both volumes and prices improving in the two markets, giving a 9.7% rise in shipments to 3.98Mt. Capacity in Egypt is being doubled this year, while in Senegal additional grinding capacity will come on stream this year and a new kiln by the middle of next year. The completion of 60%-owned Kazakh 1.1Mta integrated works is scheduled for 2010 at a cost of EUR150m, taking group cement capacity to in excess of 21Mta.