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Some signs of recovery at Argos in 2017

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World Cement,

Cementos Argos reported cement volume growth in 2017, driven by positive demand from the US, Central America, and the Caribbean. Cement sales were up 16.5% over the year at 16.28 million t. Ready-mixed cement volumes finished the year down 6.1%.

On the financial side, earnings were down 15% over the year, as the Colombian market remained challenging. Excluding non-recurring items, earnings were down 37.9% in Colombia – although there was some sign of recovery in 4Q17 with earnings down just 7.2%. Colombian cement sales finished the year down 1.3%.

The recovery towards the back end of the year comes follows two successful price increases, US$12 per tonne reduction in costs of production, and 6% reduction in administration and sales expenses.

“For 2018, a modest recovery in demand is expected given a better dynamic in the infrastructure market and a slow residential market,” the company said.

Cement volumes were up in Argos’ Caribbean and Central America business unit at 5.07 million t on the back of strong demand growth in Honduras, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. Earnings were down, due partly to revenues from a real-estate sale in 4Q16 boosting the previous year’s earnings.

Taking this out, however, earnings for the year were US$173 million compared to US$191.6 million in 2016.

The bright spot in Argos’ results remained the US with cement volumes up 47.8% and earnings up 32.9% over the year and 52.3% and 57.7% in 4Q17.

“Cement dispatches grew […] well above the total US market growth and was boosted by a pent-up demand after the hurricane season and the performance of the Carolinas and the southern states,” the company said. “The outlook for the US market is positive, based on the development of the infrastructure segment and the consolidation of the residential market, support cement demand.”

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Cement news 2018