German cement and building materials supplier HeidelbergCement AG will return to a net profit in the first half of this year, Chief Executive Hans Bauer told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview Friday. "We will again be profitable in the first half, also after tax," Bauer said. In the first half of 2003, HeidelbergCement posted a net loss of EUR4.2 million.
Bauer was also confident for the full year, saying the company will show a clear earnings improvement and solidly surpass 2002’s earnings level on an operation and net basis. In 2002, HeidelbergCement posted an operating profit of EUR500 million and a net profit of EUR262 million.
Bauer added that the company will achieve a turnaround in its loss-making German business this year. "We will again this year be in the black in Germany," he said. Bauer also said the second quarter is proceeding as planned.
Last year, HeidelbergCement restructured its German business, closing plants in Kiefersfelden and Mainz-Weisen. Those moves will generate savings of EUR30 million this year. Further significant restructuring measures aren’t planned, Bauer noted.
HeidelbergCement plans to keep its expenditures under control in order to get back in favor with credit rating agencies. "Our goal is to return to investment grade as quickly as possible," Bauer said.