Italcementi’s Asian profits grow by 39%

Italcementi’s Asian profits grow by 39%
Published: 06 August 2007

Italcementi’s first half turnover increased by 5.6% to EUR3073.1m, but the EBITDA declined by 1.7% to EUR726.9m and the reduction at the trading level increasing to 5.1% to EUR508.2m.  The net interest charge was 10.5% higher at EUR57.5m, but exceptional costs were lower and the income from associates rose, giving a 5.8% decline in the pre-tax profit to EUR453.4m. Net debt at the end of June was 9.2% lower that a year earlier, giving a gearing level of 48.8%.  Capital investment was 6.1% higher at €224m, while spending on acquisitions declined by 33.5% to EUR173m. Cement and clinker volume rose by 1.5% to 32.4Mt, while the aggregates tonnage was 1.6% higher at 30Mt and ready-mixed concrete deliveries improved by 5.9% to 11.5m m³.
Western European cement and clinker volumes declined by 0.8% to 13.6Mt, entirely because of lower volumes in Italy, where the group sold 7.1Mt.  Downstream volumes were also held back by Italy, with ready-mixed concrete shipments up by just 0.1% to 8.7Mm³, though up by 4.2% outside Italy, and aggregates deliveries, where France is the main contributor, improving by 0.4% to 28.2Mt.   The Italian turnover was 0.5% higher at €828.5m, but the EBITDA fell by 17.8% to €108.5m, as higher energy prices hit margins in a competitive market where prices are around the
EUR70 mark.  Price increases were introduced in June and margins ought to improve in the second half. 
North American cement volumes declined by 13.5% to 2.9Mt, but prices were, on average, about 4% higher.  The new ready-mixed concrete operations were consolidated during the spring and sold 0.3m m³ in the period.  Turnover from the US, Canadian and Puerto Rican businesses declined by 11.5% to
EUR286.5m, with the weaker dollar contributing to the worsening result and the EBITDA fell by 29.8% to EUR51.3m as the EUR2.4m initial downstream contribution was more than negated by the EUR3.9m fall in the dollar.
In Asia, cement deliveries amounted to 5.1Mt, which represents an underlying reduction of 1.1%, with ready-mixed concrete deliveries down by 7.0% to 0.5Mm³ but aggregates shipments increasing by 27.8% to 0.3Mt. Turnover increased by 30.1% to €213.4m and the EBITDA advanced by 38.6% to
EUR63.4m.  The reduced volumes entirely reflect the political uncertainty in Thailand that affected both building and civil engineering activity.  A partial compensation was achieved through increasing cement exports, but turnover was off by 0.8% to EUR105.9m and the EBITDA by 7.5% to EUR26.1m.  Increased demand in India led to the full utilisation of available capacity and the business being fully consolidated for the whole period, led to a 109.8% increase in the Indian turnover to EUR84.4m and the EBITDA jumped by 138.6% to EUR30.5m.  In Kazakhstan both volumes and prices grew strongly, resulting in a 35.0% advance in turnover to EUR23.1%, while the EBITDA improved by 43.7% to EUR6.8m. The wholly-owned Fuping Cement in the Shaanxi province in China, with a 2Mta capacity, will be consolidated from July.