Holcim’s CEO Marcus Akermann, remains optimistic over group prospects for 2004, with Holcim set on selling more cement, aggregates and concrete in its key markets, capable of improving value added and further developing group positions worldwide. Holcim’s solid balance sheet means that it is also in a position to invest selectively in new markets of Group companies - he added.
In France, Belgium and Switzerland there will not be much change in the situation facing the building sector. In Germany, the worst is probably over for the construction industry and Holcim expects further volume growth on unchanged or slightly lower price levels. In Southern Europe sales volumes are expected to remain stable overall.
In North America, there is evidence that the situation in the construction industry is getting brighter. Marcus Akermann notes that there is evidence that the situation in the construction sector is getting brighter. Holcim expects higher sales volumes and the price increases that have been announced should be realisable and thanks to a raft of measures to improve efficiency, Holcim expects better operating results from the North American companies in local currency.
In Latin America, Holcim expects a slight increase in volumes, but no major changes in the pricing structure. In local currency, this Group region will again show solid operating results, Akermann stated. However, the uncertain situation in the middle East makes forecasting difficult for this region. On the African continent, we expect a persistently healthy situation for the economy and orders, meaning higher volumes and prices although high continuing freight rates could prove something of a dampener.
Asean economic activity will develop positively in most cases and in the Pacific region demand for building materials is likely to remain at a high level. Overall, Holcim expects significantly higher sales volumes here too on better prices. Accordingly, Holcim is projecting further increases in results in local currency terms.
Holcim’s worldwide presence, enhanced cost efficiency and outstanding teams of staff justify Marcus Akermann’s confidence that Holcim can further improve the EBITDA margin in the direction of the Group’s stated target of 30 per cent.