Holcim increased turnover by 12.9% in 2007 to SFr27,052m (EUR16,395m) and the operating EBITDA improved by 13.9% to SFr6,930m (EUR4,200m). The trading profit was up by 14.6% to SFr5,024m (EUR3,045m) while the net attributable profit jumped by 83.7% to SFr3,865m (EUR2,342m), helped by a SFr1,260m (EUR768m) exceptional gain on selling 85% of the South African subsidiary. Net debt at the end of December stood at SFr12,873m (EUR7,755m), an increase of 0.3%, which produced a gearing level of 58.7%, down from 68.6% a year earlier. Capital investment during the year was 41.3% higher at SFr3,288m (EUR1993m), while the net cost of acquisitions, having deducted the disposal proceeds in South Africa, amounted to SFr2,277m (EUR1,380m), essentially buying out minorities in Canada and India.
Group cement deliveries advanced by 6.3% to 149.6Mt, while sales of other binders fell by 8.3% to 5.5Mt. Holcim Trading increased trading volumes in cement, clinker and extenders by 1.2Mt to 24Mt. In terms of new cement capacity, Holcim added almost 7Mt last year and is expecting to add 3.9Mt in 2008, 17.1Mt in 2009 and a further 6.2Mt in 2010.
The European turnover improved by 19.9% to SFr10,401m (EUR6,303m) and the EBITDA was up by 22.0% to SFr2,399m (EUR1,454m). Cement deliveries from the 41 plants improved by 4.3% to 34.3Mt, in spite of lower volumes in Spain, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy. The strongest growth was seen in Romania, Bulgaria, Russia and Azerbaijan. Volumes also advanced in France, Croatia and the Czech Republic, while a reduction in German domestic deliveries was more than compensated for by increased exports to Russia. Hungary was a notably weak spot in Eastern Europe, because spending restraints in the public sector and import pressures.
The Asia Pacific area is now the second largest region in terms of turnover and profit and the largest when it comes to cement tonnage. Turnover increased by 32.6%, to SFr6,292m (EUR3,813m) and the EBITDA rose by 35.0% to SFr1,844m (EUR1,117m). Helped by an increased scope, cement deliveries increased by 18.0% to 64.9Mt. The strongest advance came in Vietnam, where the market rose by 21.2%, and good volume growth also came from Indonesia, The Philippines, Sir Lanka and Bangladesh. On the other hand, domestic deliveries were lower both in Thailand and in Malaysia, though in the case of Thailand this was made up for by higher export shipments. In spite of having increased capacity in India to some 43Mt, Holcim had to by in additional clinker and this is likely to remain the case until the next significant capacity increase comes in 2009.
In North America, turnover was off by 2.8% to SFr5,365m (EUR3,251m) and the EBITDA by 3.3% to SFr999m (EUR605m). Cement deliveries fell by 7.3% to 16.4Mt. Cement production at the Holcim US plants reached an all-time record, but imports were cut back sharply as demand fell, particularly in the Mid-West. While Canadian cement sales remained strong, volumes in the US operations of St Lawrence Cement declined. The US plants have now been transferred to Holcim US, which should commission its largest works, with a capacity of 4Mta, on the Mississippi in the autumn of 2009.