On a turnover falling 3.0 per cent at €6372m, HeidelbergCement operating profit at the EBITDA level fell by 10.7 per cent to €1024m, with trading profit 21.8 per cent lower at €391m. The net interest charge was 2.6 per cent lower at €222m and helped by higher investment income, the running profit before tax emerged 25.0 per cent lower at €258m. The net debt was reduced by some €700m during the year, giving a reduction in the gearing level from 112 per cent to 86 per cent. Capital investment amounted to €612m, while €321m was raised from disposals. Group cement deliveries rose by 11.3 per cent to 51.07Mt, helped by the first time consolidation of a number of acquisitions, that contributed 4.7Mt.
In the northern European division, Estonian and Russian volumes were up by 16 per cent and 30 per cent respectively against only modest advances in Sweden and Norway and a 5.6 per cent declines in cement and clinker exports from the region. The eastern European operations reported a 2.7 per cent increase in turnover to €627m, with the EBITDA advancing by 10.4 per cent to €169m and the trading profit by 11.5 per cent to €94m, with Romania showing a particularly positive development.
In North America, turnover rose by 8.6 per cent to US$1915m, but on conversion this becomes a 9.6 per cent drop at €1686m. Margins improved and the EBITDA was just 5.4 per cent lower at €313m while the trading profit rose by 2.0 per cent to €184m, which represents an advance by a fifth in US dollar terms. Cement deliveries were 5.6 per cent higher at 12.53Mt, with the strongest volume gains were seen in western Canada, but deliveries were ahead in most US markets as well.
Other overseas operations recorded a 15.8 per cent increase in turnover to €492m, with Africa accounting for 48 per cent of this, but the portion coming from the Far East more than doubling, helped by the initial, proportional, consolidation of the now 49 per cent-owned China Century Cement from the middle of the year.