LafargeHolcim - May 2019

LafargeHolcim has agreed the sale of its 51 per cent-owned subsidiary Lafarge Malaysia to YTLCement Berhad for US$396m, a 43 per cent premium to the latest share price before the deal was announced. The sale includes the 91 per cent-owned subsidiary Holcim Singapore Pte Ltd. Lafarge Malaysia operates three integrated cement works and two grinding centres. Completion of the deal was achieved on 17 May 2019. In the first quarter Lafarge Malaysia lost MYR32.07m (US$7.64m), compared with a loss of MYR68.73m a year earlier.

First-quarter results
LafargeHolcim's 1Q turnover improved by 2.2 per cent to CHF5959m (EUR5235m), with the increase amounting to 6.9 per cent when measured in euros. The Asia-Pacific region generated 30.2 per cent (32.5 per cent in 1Q18) of group turnover, while Europe represented 29.5 per cent (26.8 per cent) and North America 16.5 per cent (15.3 per cent). Latin America contributed 11.05 (12.1 per cent) and Africa/Middle East 12.8 per cent (13.3 per cent). Operating EBITDA recovered by 15.5 per cent to CHF809m (EUR711m).

Capital investment is expected to amount to less than CHF2000m (EUR1750m) this year, with an anticipated increase in turnover of some 3-5 per cent and in improvement in EBITDA of at least five per cent.

Cement shipments in the first three months were virtually unchanged at 50Mt, but there was an underlying increase of 4.6 per cent. Shipments of aggregates were 0.2 per cent lower at 49.6Mt, while ready-mixed concrete deliveries recovered by 2.1 per cent to 11.4Mm³.

Turnover in the Asia-Pacific region declined by five per cent to CHF1745m (EUR1533m) while underlying EBITDA recovered by 14 per cent to CHF341m (EUR300m). Cement deliveries in Asia and Australia came down by 7.6 per cent to 20.9Mt while deliveries of aggregates were 13.5 per cent lower at 6.6Mt. Ready-mixed concrete deliveries declined by 6.1 per cent to 2.9Mm³. The two main Indian subsidiaries between them showed turnover growth in local currency of 8.4 per cent and a pretax and pre-exceptional profit ahead by 14.9 per cent as prices there were showing some recovery. Higher profitability from Australia and the Phillipines as well as a good performance from China were reported

The European turnover improved by 12.2 per cent to CHF1703m (EUR1496m) and EBITDA jumped by 72.9 per cent to CHF155m (EUR116m). Cement deliveries rose by 15.8 per cent to 9.6Mt and shipments of aggregates improved by 3.3 per cent to 26.2Mt while ready-mixed concrete deliveries advanced by 12.1 per cent to 4.6Mm³. Shipments were helped by better weather and Easter falling in April this year.

The turnover in Africa and the Middle East declined by 1.9 per cent to CHF736m (EUR647m) and EBITDA fell by 14.5 per cent to CHF151m (EUR133m). Cement deliveries declined by a further 2.1 per cent to 8.8Mt. Aggregates shipments fell by 9.6 per cent to 1.7Mt while ready-mixed concrete improved by a marginal 0.4 per cent to 1Mm³. Markets are stabilising, but the supply/demand balance is affecting pricing.

The North American turnover improved by 9.7 per cent to CHF951m (EUR835m) and EBITDA rose by 76.1 per cent to CHF14m(EUR12.3m).  Cement shipments were ahead by 4.7 per cent to 3.4Mt and prices were positive across most of the USA and Canada with future cost savings in hand. Aggregates deliveries recovered by 1.7 per cent to 14.2Mt in the USA and in Canada. The North American ready-mixed concrete volumes showed a 2.5 per cent recovery to 1.8Mm³. The outlook for both residential and non-residential construction remains positive.   

In Latin America, the turnover declined by 7.4 per cent, though there was an underlying growth rate of 4.2 per cent, to CHF636m (EUR5591m), and EBITDA was off by 6.7 per cent, but the underlying rate of decline was a more modest 1.6 per cent, to CHF220m (EUR193m). Cement shipments eased by 2.6 per cent to 5.9Mt, but aggregates recovered by 4.7 per cent to 0.9Mt, while ready-mixed concrete volumes declined by 8.8 per cent to 1.2Mm³. LafargeHolcim saw some recovery in Brazil and Colombia.

Huaxin Cement builds new plant
The LafargeHolcim associate Huaxin Cement in China is in the process of building a 1.2Mta cement works in Uzbekistan at a cost of some US$150m. Completion is scheduled towards the end of the first quarter of next year and the production is aimed at both the domestic and export markets.