Turnover at Buzzi Unicem increased by 9.9% during the first half of 2006 to EUR 1,518.6m, with the EBITDA advancing by 28.1% to EUR420.2m, while the pre-tax profit improved by 49.9% to EUR 83.3m. Lower volumes in Italy, Germany and Luxembourg were more or less compensated for by higher sales in much of eastern Europe and in Mexico and group cement shipments were just 0.5% down at 15.5m tonnes. Ready-mixed concrete shipments, on the other hand, improved by 5.1% to 7.8Mm³. Capital investment in the period amounted to EUR 94.5m and the net debt at the end of the period stood at EUR 959.5m to give a gearing level of 44.3%.
The slowdown in the Italian public works activity led to a 3.7% reduction in the group’s Italian cement and clinker volumes.However, improving prices both in the domestic and export markets led to a 5.9% increase in turnover to €504.1m, with margins improving from 21.2% to 23.1% as the EBITDA recovered to €116.3m. Ready-mixed concrete deliveries rose by 3.6% and prices improved by 1.7%. Cement shipments into the Italian market are expected to remain stable or fall back slightly, but profitability should improve.
In Germany, first half turnover declined by 4.4% to EUR 215m, but the EBITDA rose by 22.2% to EUR 33m. Cement deliveries in the period affected by the weather and fell by 11.5% but average prices improved by 8.1%. Ready-mixed concrete shipments were slightly ahead, but prices were unsatisfactory and to not look like improving in the short term. In Luxembourg, cement shipments declined by 4.8% and the sale of a concrete business helped reduce group turnover by 49.3% to EUR 34m and the EBITDA by 30.8% to EUR 9m.
The 50% consolidated Corporaciòn Moctezuma boosted cement shipments by 18.2%, chiefly thanks to the second production line at the Cerritos works, which is now fully in production. Cement prices have began to improve, but only in line with inflation, while ready-mixed concrete prices fell an average 1.2%, though volumes improved by 10.1%. Turnover and profit rose by 21.7% and 25.2% respectively in local currency. The stronger peso led to a 29.7% increase in turnover to EUR 98m, while the EBITDA advanced by 35.0% to EUR 36m. The increased available capacity should allow profits to improve further in the second half of the year.