Thanks to the mild European winter, HeidelbergCement’s first quarter turnover increased by 18.1% to EUR2,060.3m, which represents a 20.3% advance at constant structure and exchange rates. Margins widened considerably, with the EBITDA improving by 49.0% to EUR283.2m and the trading profit jumping by 148.8% to EUR158.8m. Capital expenditure in the year to date has amounted to EUR240m, of which EUR137m relate to fixed assets and EUR103m to acquisitions. The net debt at the end of March stood at EUR3,322m, giving a gearing level of 55.5%. Group cement shipments in the first quarter were 20.9% higher at 17.9Mt.
Europe, which now also includes other parts of the former Soviet Empire, produced a 34.0% increase in turnover to EUR903m, with the EBITDA almost trebling to EUR107m and at the trading level there was a swing from EUR32m loss into a EUR40m profit. Cement and clinker volumes rose by 32.8% to 8.30Mt, which represented a 24.4% increase on a comparable basis. Eastern Europe, Germany, Norway and Kazakhstan showed the strongest improvements, while Russian deliveries were constrained by capacity.
Turnover in North America declined by 10.7% to €493m as cement deliveries fell by 11.2% to 2.99Mt, while the EBITDA was off by 12.5% to EUR77m. Capacity continues to be utilised to the full, while cement imports were reduced in response to the fall in demand. In part, the lower volumes reflected the harsher weather compared with the previous winter. Most of the volume decline came in cement in the north-east and in the south, while volumes held up better on the west coast and in the downstream operations. With the exception of Florida, Arizona and Southern California, pricing remains positive. The timing of price increases vary, with some early in the year while in Texas a US$15 price increase is being introduced around the middle of the year.