Over the last month, there has been a lot of excitement here in the World Cement offices. Aside from a fantastic spell of sunshine, a Wimbledon win and a royal baby (all three rare and precious events), we’re also celebrating the fact that our website and news pages are filled with positive stories of expansions, investments, new contracts and improving sales. We could fill an entire supplement with the contracts news we receive from certain mill suppliers – and these are big orders, no doubt involving millions of euros. Could it be that things are finally turning around?
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As mentioned in last month’s Editor’s Comment, the PCA has predicted a 6.2% increase in US cement consumption for this year, rising to 9.2% in 2014. Of course, it’s an increase from a low level – we’re not seeing a return to boom-time levels just yet, but taking into account population growth, economic recovery and construction projects such as the east riverfront development project in Detroit that hit the headlines last month, there is definitely reason to be positive. Texas Industries, Inc., for example, reported its FY and 4Q results last month, which showed a total year profit of just over US$44 million, up from US$23.6 million the previous year.
News from India is generally positive. Earlier this year, Credit Suisse predicted that cement demand growth would increase from 5% this year to 7% next year as rural housing, road and rail projects fuel demand. The additional lure of a trillion-dollar government spending programme some time in the not-too-distant future is encouraging existing players and new entrants to the industry to expand and grab market share while they can. Consequently, our homepage is frequently taken up with news of contracts awarded, projects underway and Indian profit margins. See for yourself at www.worldcement.com.
The ASEAN nations are also performing well. In June, cement consumption in Indonesia was up 9.2% y/y to 4.9 million t. Though sales for the first half grew more slowly this year than last, investors continue to pour their money into the country and greenfield plants and capacity expansions are announced on a relatively regular basis. Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines – all are reporting positive stories of growth and development.
Likewise, Latin America looks more than healthy, with regular contract news coming from Brazil and reports of increased sales in Argentina, Paraguay and Peru. Of course, there will be more on this region in next month’s issue as we focus on Latin America to coincide with the FICEM-APCAC Technical Congress (see page 80). This month, however, you can read about cement plant projects in Tanzania, South Africa, Ethiopia and elsewhere in our Regional Report on Sub-Saharan Africa, beginning on page 38.
Unfortunately I’m out of space to talk about Turkey or Central Asia, so do check out our website for more information. In the meantime, don’t forget you can send in your news to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or share it in our LinkedIn group.