Italcementi’s turnover for the first nine months advanced by 5.0% to EUR4,613.1m, while the running EBITDA was off by 2.3% to EUR1.105.6m. At the trading level, the profit was down by 5.0% to EUR786.3 and after a net interest charge that rose by 12.8% to EUR92.1m, the pre-tax profit declined by 6.4% to EUR698.6m. Net debt at the end of September was 4.5% lower than a year earlier at EUR2408m, which represents a gearing level of 51.0%. Capital investment increased by 29.3% to €763m, while financial investments included an increase in the stake in Ciments Français to 77.2%. Group cement and clinker shipments increased by 1.4% to 49Mt, while the aggregates tonnage decreased by 1.3% to 44.0m tonnes and ready-mixed concrete deliveries improved by 0.4% to 17.1Mm³.
Western European cement and clinker volumes were off by 1.9% to 19.7Mt, largely because of lower deliveries in Italy, where the group sold 10.2Mt. Italcementi has agreed to acquire a grinding station in the port of Ravenna from Cemex, with completion expected in early January at a cost of approximately EUR50m, the second such deal in Italy that the two groups have done. The cement plant at Matera is being converted to dry process and is having its capacity increased by 30% to 0.9Mt, with completion expected in the second half of 2009. Volumes in Italy are expected to remain slightly lower for the remainder of the year, with turnover for the first nine months being 0.7% lower at EUR1,200.4m and the EBITDA down by 17.5% to EUR155.5m. In France, the second largest market, volumes were ahead, the turnover improved by 8.4% to 1,202.1m and the EBITDA rose by 14.0% to EUR272.8m. In Spain, turnover rose by 8.1% to EUR278Mt, but margins and volumes weakened, notably in the downstream operations, but the profit still rose by 2.2% to EUR69.1m. Belgian profits improved by 4.7% to EUR33.9m, but there was a 14.1% drop to EUR22.1m in Greece as the construction boom ended, in spite of higher prices in all three product lines.