The Buzzi Unicem group sold 31.9Mt of cement in 2004, unchanged in absolute terms, but up by 1.8 per cent on a comparable structure, after allowing for the divestments by Dyckerhoff in the early part of last year. Ready-mixed concrete deliveries rose by 3.3 per cent to 15.2m m³. The turnover from continuing operations was 2.6 per cent higher at €2771.6m. If exchange rate movements are stripped out, the underlying increase in turnover amounts to 6.4 per cent. The trading profit, which will be announced with the full results on the 24th of March, is forecast to show a slight improvement on the comparable numbers for 2003, in spite of higher energy costs and negative exchange rate movements.
In Italy, turnover rose by 2.9% to €965.8m with cement deliveries increasing by 5.5 per cent to 8.6Mt. The increased volumes were primarily achieved in central Italy and on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily. Pricing remains competitive and rose only modestly, and the shift in the geographical bias away from the north have a negative effect of the average price achieved. Lower concrete deliveries to major civil engineering projects in northern Italy left overall ready-mixed concrete sales 1.2 per cent lower at just under 3.7m m³ but the price effect was positive and margins improved. In Germany, underlying cement deliveries were 4.8 per cent lower, but improved prices gave rise to a 7.0 per cent increase in turnover to €501.9m.