Strong performances in Australia and the US aggregates businesses were offset by weaker profitability in the British operations as well as in the North American building products division and a weaker US dollar. Turnover in the first half of 2004 was 5.6% lower at £1,808.5m (€2,680.4m), though in US dollar terms these was an 11.1% increase to US$3,424.4m. The EBITDA was 4.8% lower at £270.6m (€401.1m), of which 47.0% came from North America, 24.2% from Great Britain, 17.2% from Australia and 11.6% from other areas.
Hanson North America saw turnover rise by 16.1% to US$1,321.0m, with the trading profit up by 5.9% to US$149.5m, helped by a US$15m property contribution, but an exceptionally wet June in Texas reduced profits by around US$7m. Volumes rose by 16.5% in aggregates, by 18.4% in bricks, by 7.6% in concrete products and by 5.0% in ready-mixed concrete. The Northern Californian cement shipments were ahead by around one-fifth, in an otherwise relatively subdued Californian market. Prices improved in bricks and concrete, mainly on the back of higher cement prices, but overall aggregates prices were little changed.
In a weaker British market, deliveries fell by 2.5% in aggregates, by 3.5% in ready-mixed concrete and by 7.8% in bricks, but prices moved ahead across the board, particularly in Bricks, with a 7.7% increase. Turnover was off by 4.1% to £551.1m (€816.8m) and the trading profit fell by 25.8% to £47.1m (€69.8m). Hanson Australia improved deliveries of aggregates and ready-mixed concrete by 17.5% and 5.6% respectively while prices rose by 2.5% and 3.4%. Synergy targets at the associate Cement Australia, owned jointly with Holcim and Rinker, were exceeded. The overall turnover rose by 10.5% to Aus$694.3m while the trading profit jumped by 39.0% to Aus$86.2m. A 12.7% decline in turnover from Continental Europe and Asia to £243.2m (€360.4m) reflected the reduced size of the business in parts of Asia. However, progress was seen in Spain, marine dredged dredging and in Malaysia and the decline in the trading profit was limited to 2.7% to £21.9m (€32.5m.