Italcementi suffers from cost pressures

Italcementi suffers from cost pressures
Published: 16 March 2004

On a turnover 0.5 per cent higher at €4284.7m, the operating profit at the EBITDA level at Italcementi declined by 4.3 per cent to €1060.9m as higher operating costs, particularly in respect of transport, were encountered.  After a 1.7 per cent increase in depreciation and amortisation costs, the trading profit declined by 7.7 per cent to €656.4m, with the rate of reduction being reduced to 7.1 per cent at the running profit before tax level of €541.9m thanks to a 7.1 per cent drop in the net interest charge to €114.5m.  Net debt fell by 13.8 per cent to €1,797.8m to give a comfortable gearing level of 63.6 per cent at the end of 2003, down from 73.5 per cent a year earlier.  Of the total turnover, 71.9 per cent was generated in the European Union, with Italy alone accounting from 32.2 per cent and Italian turnover growing by 4.5 per cent during the year.  Capital expenditure amounted to €294m, of which €93m was spent in Italy and €74m in France.  €79m was spent on acquisitions, principally on increasing the stake in Ciments Français to 74.8 per cent.  Some increase in acquisition spending is envisaged this year, with Italcementi hoping to be able to increase its holding in Suez Cement Company from the current 34 per cent as well as making further inroads into the southern Indian cement market through its joint venture Zuari Cement.