Buzzi Unicem generated at turnover of €1461m in the year to the end of December 2003. This is 1.2 per cent lower that in 2002, but adjusting for the considerable weakness in the US and Mexican currencies gives an underlying increase of 7.0 per cent. Turnover in Italy advanced by 7.2 per cent to some €936m. In the United States, turnover increased by 4.3 per cent in local currency terms, but this produced a 12.8 per cent fall once converted into euros. Mexico saw turnover move ahead by 13.9 per cent in pesos, only to drop by 14.6 per cent on conversion. Net debt at the end of December was 23.5 per cent lower at €407m, with the weaker US dollar accounting for just under 30 per cent of the fall in the net debt. Higher fuel and freight costs as well as exchange rate movements will have a negative effect on the profit numbers when the full results are released on the 30th of March.
Group cement deliveries, excluding Dyckerhoff that will only be consolidated from the 1st of January this year, rose by 3.9 per cent to 14.2Mt, a growth rate very similar to what had been achieved in the previous year. Helped by a strong final, quarter, cement deliveries in the Italian market ended the year 1.3 per cent higher at 8.3Mt. Cement sales in the United States operations showed the strongest growth within the group and advanced by 7.8 per cent to 4.8Mt, while in Mexico the joint venture Corporacion Moctezuma pushed volumes up by 6.9 per cent to 2.5Mt.
The global ready-mixed concrete volumes rose by 10.1 per cent to 9.8m cu m. Looking at the Buzzi Unicem group as it stands to-day, that is including Dyckerhoff, turnover in 2003 was €2780m and cement deliveries exceeded 31Mt.