Italcementi's first-quarter turnover improved by 9.7% to 1153.2m, while the running EBITDA declined by 6.4% to 130.4m. The trading profit recovered by 17.6% to 35.6m. At the pre-tax level, there was a swing from a 5.7m loss into a profit of 23.4m after a net interest charge 58.9% lower at 16.1m and there was a net attributable profit of 127.6m compared wit a loss of 8.6m, helped by a 109.1m gain on disposals, chiefly in Turkey. There should be some further Turkish divestments this year. The net debt at the end of March was 2.9% lower at 2166.4m to give a gearing level of 44.2%, down from 48.5% a year earlier. The sale of emission rights yielded 9m in the quarter, three times the amount booked that time last year.


Cement and clinker sales were 4.6% higher at 12.4Mt, though international trading activities saw volumes drop by 53.9% to 0.6Mt as reduced volumes were supplied to group companies in Egypt, and the EBITDA from cement and clinker trading declined by 5.9% to 2.8m. Underlying aggregates deliveries rose by 4.1% to 9.3Mt and ready-mixed concrete volumes advanced by 8.6% to 3.5Mm³ on the same basis with Calcestruzzi having been re-consolidated from the beginning of the year.


Western European, cement and clinker volumes were 11.9% higher at 4.63Mt, with Italian shipments being 0.4Mt higher at 2.1Mt. The Italian cement and clinker volumes recovered by 9.6%, which was a better performance than the market and prices showed a recovery, but were still lower than a year earlier. A further price increase could be implemented during the summer. Turnover in Italy improved by 32.8% to 212.8m largely because of the inclusion of Calcestruzzi and because of Calcestruzzi's losses a 19.4m loss was incurred at the EBITDA level. In France and Belgium, turnover rose by 20.5% to 392.8m and the EBITDA advanced by 26.5% to 53.8m, with cement volumes recovering by 19.1% in France and by 30.7% in Belgium, helped by the milder weather. In Spain, turnover fell by 12.4% to 38.8m and the EBITDA dipped by 65.9% to 3.0m with, domestic cement deliveries being down by 9.3%. In Greece, turnover was fell by 29.9% to 12.2m and the EBITDA dropped by 93.1% to 0.3m as cement and clinker sales were down by 15.3%.


Egyptian turnover declined by 21.6% to 167.6m as the political uncertainty halted the companies' production for a week and disruptions in some places stopped construction activity for longer. The EBITDA was off by 17.7% to 50.9m, with cement deliveries declining by 13.8% and prices easing a bit. In Morocco, turnover was 5.1% higher at 84.9m and thanks to the new Aït Baha cement works, the EBITDA improved by 18.1% to 36.6m. The old Agadir works was closed at the end of March. Increased competition led to some reduction in prices, but domestic deliveries still increased by 3.9% and the overall cementitious volume rose by 5.5%. The results from the rest of the region, which consists of Bulgaria, Kuwait, what is left of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, produced a turnover 2.8% higher at 26.8m and generating an EBITDA of 6.8m. Kuwait had the biggest turnover with 16m while Bulgaria made the highest profit contribution, almost entirely thanks to the sale of emission certificates.


Asian sales rebounded strongly after the weak start to last year, with turnover advancing by 37.1% to 130.3m and the EBITDA jumped by 72.5% to 24.8m, in spite of no positive contributions from China and Kazakhstan. India increased turnover by 53.3% to 69.5m and the EBITDA jumped by 95.1% to 15.5m. Cement and clinker sales rose by 24.5% in the first quarter and domestic cement sales were ahead by 15.2%, helped by additional capacity that came on-stream last year at the Yerraguntla works, with a grinding plant at Chennai being added shortly. In the Thai market, turnover was raised by 30.4% to 54.2m and the EBITDA advanced by 68.2% to 10.1m as domestic deliveries increased by 11.3%, while total cement and clinker sales were 9.1% higher. In the Shaanxi province in China, Italcementi increased cement and clinker volumes by 17.5%, but the results suffered because of the higher cost of coal. Kazakh volumes declined by 7.1% because of a bad winter, but better prices allowed a small profit improvement.


The North American turnover was up by 3.8% to 63.9m, but the EBITDA loss widened from 17.1m to 21.9m. Cement shipments improved by 6.8% to 0.6Mt, but average prices declined in a very competitive market that had to cope with higher input costs.