The Buzzi Unicem group sold 31.9Mt of cement in 2004, unchanged in absolute terms, but up by 1.8% 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% to 15.2Mm3. The turnover from continuing operations was 2.6% higher at EUR 2,771.6m. If exchange rate movements are stripped out, the underlying increase in turnover amounts to 6.4%. 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 EUR 965.8m with cement deliveries increasing by 5.5% 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% lower at just under 3.7Mm3 but the price effect was positive and margins improved.
In Germany, underlying cement deliveries were 4.8% lower, but improved prices gave rise to a seven per cent increase in turnover to EUR 501.9m. Luxembourg cement shipments rose by 3.5% for the year, in spite of some slowing down in activity in the final quarter and an improved outcome from the concrete products business helped to achieve a 9.8% increase in turnover to EUR 123.6m.