HeidelbergCement expects ’significant double-digit’ growth for 2006

HeidelbergCement expects ’significant double-digit’ growth for 2006
Published: 08 November 2006

For the first nine months of the year, HeidelbergCement increased turnover by 19.4%, or by 14.6% on an underlying basis, to EUR6,852m, with the EBITDA advancing by 31.8% to EUR1,464m and the running profit before tax showed a 48.6% rise to EUR1,064m.

Cement shipments increased by 14.4% to 58.8Mt, which represents an underlying increase of 8.9%, while ready-mixed concrete deliveries rose by 11.1% to 23.19Mm³ and aggregates shipments advanced by 14.0% to 76.57Mt. Capital investment amounted to EUR325m in the period, an increase of 6.5%, while spending on acquisitions increased by 7.4% to EUR247m. Net debt at the end of September stood at EUR3367m, a reduction of 4.6% compared with a year ago to give a gearing level of 60.1%. Exceptional profits from the sale of CO2 emission permits provided a gain of around €50m during the nine months. 
Turnover in Europe rose by 21.6% to EUR3,080m and the EBITDA advanced by 38.4% to EUR682m.  Cement shipments increased by 18.8% to 29.52Mt, with ready-mixed concrete deliveries ahead by 16.0% to 14.63M m³ and aggregates volumes up by 20.1% to 54.51Mt.  European cement markets were generally strong, particularly in eastern Europe, with he exception of the Czech Republic, but also in Sweden, on the back of a 10% growth in housebuilding activity, Estonia and in Germany and the Benelux countries. Norway has remained very strong but British demand was softer.  Pricing continued to move ahead across most of Europe, but costs were also under pressure, notably for electricity.
The North American turnover increase moderated to 21.2% to EUR1,884m while the EBITDA rose by 31.1% to EUR430m. The cement tonnage was 3.5% higher at 11.43Mt, while in the downstream operations ready-mixed concrete volumes rose by 11.5% to 6.89Mm³ and aggregates by 1.3% to 22.06Mt. Weaker US housebuilding activity reduced cement demand in Florida, California and along the east coast after a strong start to the year, though commercial building and civil engineering activity remained strong.  In western Canada, on the other hand, cement shipments increased on the back of a buoyant minerals based economy.