Holcim has reported a 2.9% increase in consolidated cement sales volumes for the first quarter of this calendar year. In the January – March period, the group sold 33 million t of cement, thanks to improved performances in France, Germany and Russia. Construction activity was ‘dynamic’ in Europe, according to the 1Q statement, which attributes sales growth to mild weather conditions on the continent, together with stable volumes in India and recovery in Mexico. Net sales fell 5.4% to CHF4.09 billion, largely due to negative currency effects. On a like-for-like basis, that figure improves to 7.8%. Consolidated operating EBITDA was also impacted by currency effects, but was up 10.1% on a like-for-like basis. Operating profit was up 9.3%, equivalent to 28.4% on a like-for-like basis.
Holcim CEO Bernard Fontana said: “Holcim reported a significant increase in operating profit during the first quarter of 2014, mainly driven by higher like-for-like cement volumes in all Group regions and the continued strong momentum of the Holcim Leadership Journey coupled with strict cost management across the Group. Margins continued to increase and cash flow from operating activities was also better than in the first quarter last year.”
The Holcim Leadership Journey continues to drive operational performance and is on track to meet the targeted increase in operating profit of CHF1.5 billion by the end of this year. Over the last 12 months, Holcim has reduced net financial debt by CHF718 million to CHF10 billion.
Holcim sold activities in French Guyana this quarter and acquired a port facility in the Philippines. In Europe, Holcim has received approval of its transaction with Cemex in the Czech Republic and is awaiting a decision on the other elements of that asset swap. In India, the High Courts in Delhi and Gujarat have approved the streamlining of Holcim’s Indian operations. Final approval lies with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board. No further details of the LafargeHolcim merger are provided in the 1Q statement other than those already available.
Holcim is expecting a slow recovery in European markets and a more pronounced recovery in North America. Uncertainties in Mexico dampen prospects for Latin America, while the Asia Pacific Region is expected to grow at a comparatively slower pace than in recent years. Cement volumes are expected to increase across all Group regions.
Adapted from press release by Katherine Guenioui
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcement.com/europe-cis/28042014/holcim_1q14_shows_early_signs_of_european_recovery_85/