Excluding the roofing business, which is being sold, Lafarge increased its turnover last year by 16.7% to EUR16,909m and the EBITDA improved by 19.7% to EUR3,704m. The running profit at the trading level rose by 23.4% to EUR2,772m and the pre-tax profit advanced by 23.7% to EUR2,223m. A more normal tax charge reduced the growth rate in net profit to 11.6%, though lower minorities offset this with the net attributable profit improving by 25.2% to EUR1,372m. Group cement shipments rose by 7.0% in 2006 to 131.8Mt, while aggregates deliveries improved by 9.2% to 261.9Mt and ready-mixed concrete deliveries by 11.3% to 43.4m m³. Net debt at the end of last year stood at EUR9845m, which represents an increase of 36.3%, largely reflecting the buying out of the North American minorities. That represented a gearing level of 83.5%.
European cement operations generated a turnover 15.6% higher at €3,601m with the EBITDA rising by 16.8% to €1,159m. Cement deliveries rose by 9.3% to 47.1Mt. In France, cement volumes rose by six per cent and turnover increased by 10.6 per cent. Capacity has been boosted by the commissioning of a grinding centre for slag in Bordeaux and a second is planned for Sète, on the Mediterranean coast, to satisfy the increased demand for blended cement. British volumes grew by a more modest 2.2%, but strong pricing boosted turnover by 8.6%. In Spain, shipments rose by 3.4% and turnover by 12.3%. The Greek advance was mainly volume driven, with 15.8% increase in shipments accounting for most of the 18.7% rise in turnover. German prices showed a good recovery of some 10%, with volumes 2.5% higher. Romania and Poland showed the strongest volume growth at 30.3% and 28.2% respectively, though Polish prices were marginally lower. Russian prices rose strongly and turnover advanced by 31.5% on volumes that were only 3.9% ahead, while Serbia increased both volumes and prices by just over 10%. Western European concrete and aggregates trading profit rose by 26.8% to EUR227m on the back of a 7.5% rise in aggregates shipments to 86.1Mt that boosted turnover by 12.9% to EUR1,058m and ready-mixed concrete sales 25.7% higher at EUR1,542m, with volumes ahead by 23.7% to 19.3Mm³, helped by acquisitions.