HeidelbergCement AG said Wednesday it will lower its dividend payment for 2004 after swinging to a net loss in 2004 as a result of extraordinary charges. The company said it moved ahead with measures for cost saving and restructuring to achieve better capacity utilisation in 2004, and continued to concentrate on core business and pursue the aim of becoming the regional market leader with its cement activities. In 2004, Group turnover increased by 8.8 per cent to Euro6.929bn (previous year: Euro6.372bn).
The group’s operational growth of Euro353m was primarily achieved in North America, Africa-Asia-Turkey and Central Europe East. Other significant influential factors were new consolidations with a plus of Eur511m, of which Euro411m were contributed by Indocement alone, and currency effects with a minus of Euro186m, which were mainly attributable to the reduced US dollar exchange rate. A minus of Euro121m resulted from disinvestments. Adjusted for currency and consolidation effects, turnover increased by 5.8 per cent.
For the first time, HeidelbergCement exceeded the 65Mt mark for cement and clinker sales volumes: During 2004, they rose to 65.2Mt (previous year:51.1Mt). This is largely attributable to the first-time consolidation of Indocement, which contributed 12.5Mt. Welcome increases in sales volumes were achieved in North America, Central Europe East, and China. Excluding consolidation effects, the increase compared with the previous year amounted to 2.2 per cent.
The outlook for the construction industry is varied. Conditions remain favourable for our North American and Asian activities. Construction activity also exceeds the average in the countries of the Central Europe East region. Stabilisation or even a slight recovery should be achieved in Scandinavia, Belgium, and the Netherlands. For Germany, a decline in construction activity of around 1.5 per cent is expected.