Holcim’s turnover increased by 15.8% to SFr20,286m (EUR12,370m) and the operating EBITDA rose by 19.0% to SFr5,340m (EUR3,256m). The trading profit advanced by 20.7% to SFr3,961m (EUR2,415m) and at the net attributable level the increase reached 119.3% to SFr3,300m (EUR2,012m), thanks to a S.Fr. 1,260m (EUR768m) exceptional gain on selling 85% of the South African business. The net debt at the end of September was 13.0% higher at SFr14,509m (EUR8,847m), giving a gearing level of 66.7% compared with 68.6% a year earlier. Capital investment in the period amounted to SFr738m (EUR450m), while the cost of acquisitions amounted to SFr1,400m (EUR854m).
Group cement shipments increased by 8.7% to 112.8Mt, but the volume of other binders declined by 4.5% to 4.2Mt. Shipments of aggregates were 0.7% lower at 137Mt while ready-mixed concrete deliveries advanced by 2.4% to 33.6Mm³, but the asphalt volume dropped by 5.4% to 10.5Mt.
The European turnover rose by 23.3% to SFr7,773m (EUR4,740m) and the EBITDA increased by 25.3% to SFr1,835m (EUR1,119m). Cement deliveries declined in Spain, Switzerland and Italy and were stable in Germany. Volumes increased across the board in France and in Great Britain, the latter being primarily a downstream operation as far as Holcim is concerned. Strong volume growth was experienced in Eastern Europe, with the strongest advance in cement being seen in Bulgaria, followed by Romania and the Czech Republic. In terms of aggregates, the strongest advances were seen in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, while in ready-mixed concrete the strongest growth came from Croatia and Romania. European cement deliveries increased by 5.7% to 26.1Mt, while aggregates deliveries rose by 9.8% to 76.4Mt, with some help from acquisitions, while ready-mixed concrete volume were stable at 14.9Mm³.
In North America, turnover declined by 2.3% to SFr4,016m (EUR2,449m), but the EBITDA was just 0.6% lower at SFr771m (€470m). Cement shipments were down by 9.5% to 12.4Mt, with the strongest declines being seen in the Midwest but all regions being down and import volumes were reduced to 0.6Mt in the nine months compared with 2Mt for the same period last year. Growth in non-residential demand led to an increase in Canadian aggregates deliveries, but the overall North American aggregates volume dropped by 10.4% to 43Mt. Helped by acquisitions, both in Canada and in the USA, where several batching plants were added in South Carolina, ready-mixed concrete deliveries were 1.9% higher at 5.3Mm³. Following the buying-out of the 21% minority in St. Lawrence Cement that company’s US operations will be transferred to Holcim US with the start of 2008.
The Latin American turnover rose by 7.7% to SFr2,961m (EUR1,805m) but higher petcoke prices and unfavourable exchange rate movements led to a 2.4% reduction in the EBITDA to SFr932m (EUR568m). Cement shipments improved by 1.5% to 19.8m tonnes. Strong growth in cement deliveries was seen in Venezuela, Brazil and in Argentina, with volumes also being ahead in Colombia, Ecuador and in the Caribbean. Volumes in Mexico were slightly lower as Holcim concentrated on margins and Chilean shipments also declined somewhat. Brazilian cement prices have now begun to recover, but remain unsatisfactory. Aggregates deliveries declined by 3.1% to 9.4Mt, reflecting weaker demand in Brazil and Ecuador. Ready-mixed concrete volumes rose by 4.0% to 7.8Mm³, helped by increased deliveries in Brazil and Argentina. Holcim is building a new 1.6Mta cement works near Hermosillo in northern Mexico for completion in 2010 at a cost of around US$400m