HeidelbergCement has reported a 10.2% increase in turnover to €1,347m in respect of the first three months of 2004, with the operating profit at the EBITDA level advancing by 123.5% to €90m. Adjusting for exchange rate movements and changes to the sphere of consolidation, with Indocement being consolidated for the first time, the increase in turnover was 5.3%. Sales of cement and clinker rose by 38.4% to 12.95m tonnes, with the initial consolidation of Indocement adding 3.6m tonnes. The loss at the trading level was reduced from €112m to €33m and the net debt at the end of March stood at €4,242m, a decline of 6.8% compared with the same time a year earlier and corresponding to a gearing level of 93.4%.
Thanks to a number of acquisitions, the German cement volume rose by 30.7% to 1.30m tonnes, but at the underlying level there was a decline of some 5%. Price increases are beginning to take effect and the kiln closure at Mainz-Weisenau helped reduced the cost base, with the result that the first quarter loss at the EBITDA level was reduced by 52% to €10m on a turnover 23.5% higher at €144m.
In western Europe, turnover declined by 5.3% to €213m on a static cement volume of 2.07m tonnes and an unchanged positive EBITDA of €15m. Castle Cement in Great Britain increased deliveries by some 2%, but the cement volume in The Netherlands and Belgium continued to be affected by low price imports from Germany and showed a continued decline and price pressures in ready-mixed concrete in those countries intensified.
The northern European cement and clinker volume were affected by the reduction in exports as the Brevik works in Norway was down for eight weeks for rebuilding and volumes dropped by 12.8% to 1.06m tonnes as exports fell from 0.62m tonnes to 0.39m tonnes. However, domestic deliveries were ahead; by 7% in Norway and Sweden and by 42% in Estonia and Russia. The positive trend in cement deliveries was also seen in ready-mixed concrete and aggregates. Area turnover declined by 14.6% to €133m and the EBITDA fell by 38.6% to €4m.
In the eastern European region, cement deliveries increased by 12.3% to 1.26m tonnes, with volumes in Romania and Poland advancing by around 60% and 40% respectively. Adjusting for the sale of the Bulgarian business, the underlying volume increase was around 18%. Turnover increased by 8.3% to €83m and the EBITDA moved from a negative €4m last year to a positive €4m this time.