Displaying items by tag: Cemex
LafargeHolcim was the last major European cement producer to release its second quarter financial results last week. The collective picture is confused. Cement sales volumes have risen but sales revenue have fallen.
Most of the producers have blamed negative currency effects for their falls in revenue during the first half of 2016. Holding a mixed geographical portfolio of building materials production assets has kept these companies afloat over the last decade but this has come with a price. The recent appreciation of the Euro versus currencies in various key markets, such as in Egypt, has hit balance sheets, since the majority of these firms are based in Europe and mostly use the Euro for their accounting. Meanwhile, sales volumes of cement have mostly risen for the companies we have examined making currency effects a major contributor.
Graph 1 - Changes in cement sales volumes for major non-Chinese cement producers in the first half of 2016 compared to the first half of 2015 (%). Data labels are the volumes reported in 2016. Source: Company reports.
As can be seen in Graph 1, sales volumes have risen for most of the producers, with the exception of LafargeHolcim. Despite blaming shortages of gas in Nigeria for hitting its operating income, LafargeHolcim actually saw its biggest drop in sales volumes in Latin America by 13.2% year-on-year to 11.8Mt. The other surprise here was that its North American region reported a 2.7% fall to 8.8Mt with Canada the likely cause. Vicat deserves mention here for its giant boost in sales volumes due to recovery in France and good performance in Egypt and the US, amongst other territories.
Graph 2 - Changes in sales revenue for major non-Chinese cement producers in the first half of 2016 compared to the first half of 2015 (%). Data labels are the sales reported in 2016. Source: Company reports.
Overall sales revenue for these companies presents a gloomier scenario with the majority of them losing revenue in the first half of the year, with most of them blaming negative currency effects for this. Titan is included in this graph to show that it’s not all bad news. Its growth in revenue was supported by good performance in the US and Egypt. Likewise, good performance in Eastern Europe and the US helped Buzzi Unicem turn in a positive increase in its sales revenue. They remain, however, the exception.
Looking at sales revenue generated from cement offers one way to disentangle currency effects from performance. Unfortunately, only about half of the companies looked at here actually published this for the reporting period. Of these, LafargeHolcim reported a massive rise that was probably due to the accounting coping with the merger process that finalised in 2015. Of the rest - HeidelbergCement, Italcementi and Vicat – the sales revenue from each company’s cement businesses fell at a faster rate than overall sales. Like-for-like figures here would help clarify this situation.
Meanwhile, a mixed global patchwork of cement demand is focusing multinational attention on key countries with growing economies like Egypt and Nigeria. Both of these countries have undergone currency devaluation versus the Euro and are facing energy shortages for various reasons. The exposure of the multinational cement producers to such places may become clearer in the second half of the year.
US: A person has died at the Kosmos Cement plant in Louisville, Kentucky. Local police told the WDRB local television station that the male victim was aged in his 30s or 40s and was pronounced dead on the scene. Officials say the death was a workplace accident involving a pulley system.
US: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have agreed a settlement with Cemex, under which the company will invest approximately US$10m to cut air pollution at five of its cement plants to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. Under the consent decree lodged in the District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Cemex will also pay a US$1.69m civil penalty, conduct energy audits at the five plants, and spend US$150,000 on energy efficiency projects to mitigate the effects of past excess emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from its facilities.
“This settlement requires Cemex to use state-of-the-art technology to reduce harmful air pollution, improving public health in vulnerable communities across the South and Southeast,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “EPA is committed to tackling clean air violations at the largest sources, cutting the pollutants that cause respiratory illnesses like asthma.”
The five Cemex cement plants affected by the deal are located in Demopolis in Alabama, Louisville in Kentucky, Knoxville in Tennessee and New Braunfels and Odessa in Texas. The Knox County, Tennessee and Louisville, Kentucky air pollution control authorities participated in this settlement. Cemex is required to install pollution control technology that will reduce emissions of NOx and establish strict limits for sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions. The cement producer will install and continuously operate a selective non-catalytic reduction system for controlling NOx at the five plants and meet emission limits that are consistent with the current best available control technology for NOx. EPA estimates this will result in NOx emissions reductions of over 4000t/yr. Each facility will also be subject to strict SO2 emission limits.
This settlement is part of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiative to control harmful emissions from large sources of pollution, which includes cement plants, under the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration requirements. The total combined SO2 and NOx emission reductions secured from cement plant settlements under this initiative will exceed 75,000t/yr once all the required pollution controls have been installed and implemented.
The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.
Mexico: Cemex’s sales revenue fell slightly year-on-year to US$6.88bn in the first half of 2016. Its net income rose to US$242m from a loss of US$31.6m. Its cement sales volumes rose by 2% to 33.6Mt from 32.9Mt.
“Our solid second quarter and first half 2016 results demonstrate the resilience of our portfolio, which is largely comprised of high-growth markets that are experiencing attractive supply-demand conditions,” said Fernando A Gonzalez, Chief Executive Officer of Cemex. The cement producer attributed the increases in sales in the second quarter to high prices overall and increased high sales volumes in Mexico, the US and Europe.
By region, Cemex reported a rise in cement sales volumes in all territories except Mexico. Here, cement volumes started to rise in the second quarter of 2016. The highest half-year increase in cement sales volumes was reported in the US at 7%, driven by residential and infrastructure activity.
Back in the May 2016 issue of Global Cement Magazine we asked key people at the Portland Cement Association how they thought the US presidential election might affect the local cement industry. Wisely, for an advocacy organisation with offices in Washington DC, no one would be drawn, citing a lack of information. At that point it was still unclear who was going to be on the final ticket. However, we all missed a trick because one candidate, Donald Trump, had been talking about building ‘a border fence like you have never seen before’ since at least mid-2014. And that fence could potentially require a lot of cement.
Researchers at market analysts Bernstein’s sent a note to clients last week ahead of the Republican National Convention looking at the implications of if Donald Trump became president of the US and actually set out to build his 40ft high concrete wall between the US and Mexico. The result would be a 2.4Mt boost in demand for cement from cement producers near to the border. In terms of market demand Bernstein concluded that this would add over 1% to cement demand in both 2018 and 2019, a healthy ‘shot in the arm’ to the already pepped-up US cement industry, which is currently growing at around 5%/yr.
Map 1: Map of cement and ready-mix concrete plants near to the US - Mexico border. Source: Bernstein Materials Blast. Note – Bernstein does not show the Capitol Cement plant in San Antonio.
Needless to say, Bernstein’s calculations pile-drive assumptions into assumptions, atop of Trump’s political rhetoric. It bases its calculations on a border wall similar to the Israeli West Bank barrier built out of precast concrete panels. It also tries to model how much concrete and cement would be required depending on the differing height’s Trump has trumpeted at his rallies.
The kicker to this tongue-in-cheek analysis is that the construction company that stands to benefit the most from this infrastructure project is Mexican!
Cemex has significantly more cement plants and ready-mix concrete plants than any other company within a 200-mile zone either side of the border. Looking at integrated cement plants alone, it has six plants in the regions near to the proposed wall from the east and west coasts. Its nearest competitors, CalPortland with four plants and Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua with three plants, are more regionally based in the western US and Chihuahua state in Mexico. Clearly Cemex didn’t rate the chances of Donald Trump’s wall actually happening when it agreed to sell its Odessa cement plant to Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua in May 2016.
All of this goes to show that, wherever you stand on the Donald Trump presidency bid, if you manufacture cement near the US-Mexican border you might be working overtime if he (a) actually becomes president, (b) actually manages to start building his wall and (c) actually decides to make it using cement. Yet before anybody starts popping champagne corks consider this: there might also be unintended consequences for the cement sector. Restricting current legal and illegal migration trends from Mexico to the US might have a greater negative effect on the US cement industry, and the overall economy, than ordering one large infrastructure project. Working that one out is harder than a guesstimate of how much cement a border wall might consume. Probably best not to ask at this stage who might actually pay for the Great Wall of Donald Trump.
Philippines: Cemex Philippines plans to build a US$300m cement plant with a production capacity of 1.5Mt/yr. The plant will be in operation in the second half of 2019, according to Reuters. Company president and chief executive Pedro Jose Palomino made the announcement amid the company’s initial public offering on the Philippine Stock Exchange.
UK: Firefighters were called to an incident at the Cemex South Ferriby cement plant on 17 July 2016. A spokesman for Humberside Fire and Rescue Service told the Scunthorpe Telegraph that a fire involved a fuel leak from a pipeline which spread to cables, pipework and a disused control room within the kiln room. Fire damage was reported to the pipework, cables and one wall of the control room. The remainder of the building was damaged by smoke.
Mexico: The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has granted Cemex a loan of Euro106m to support the cement producer’s sustainable investment programs in emerging markets. The IFC will grant Cemex funding for projects designed to enhance environmental performance that were completed in 2014 and 2015 as well as on-going during 2016, which are part of the capital expenditure plan previously communicated by Cemex. Approximately 60% of the funds will be allocated for projects related to the reduction of Cemex’s greenhouse gas emissions, while the remainder of the funds will be allocated to cover improvements to Cemex’s overall air emission controls.
“IFC’s financing to Cemex sustainable programs is part of our commitment to invest in critical climate-smart solutions across emerging markets,” said Liz Bronder, IFC Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “We are encouraged by Cemex’s innovative initiatives and look forward to the company’s leadership expanding the climate change agenda among global key players”.
The IFC is joining Cemex’s facilities agreement dated 29 September 2014, as amended and restated maturing in 2020. This transaction increases the currently outstanding commitments under this credit agreement by approximately Euro106m and diversifies Cemex’s sources of funding.
Puerto Rico: The US Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has fined Cemex Puerto Rico US$291,722 in penalties relating to 119 citations and orders issued for safety violations at the company’s Ponce Cement Plant and Cantera Canas mines. The cement producer must now implement enhanced safety measures at its three MSHA-regulated facilities in Puerto Rico.
The MSHA issued the citations and orders for a wide variety of violations, including obstructed and unsafe travel ways and workplaces, safety defects on mobile equipment and machinery, and unguarded machine parts. The settlement was approved on 7 June 2016.
In the settlement Cemex agrees to hire an independent external safety consultant knowledgeable about surface mining and cement plant operations to conduct annual, wall-to-wall employee safety audits of these three facilities over the next four years. It will also arrange for the MSHA’s Educational Field and Small Mine Services to teach a mine safety course and cement plant safety course to safety directors, assistant safety directors, area supervisors and foremen.
India/Switzerland/UK: The five bidders that gave their final bids for Lafarge India’s 11Mt/yr cement business have been called to London, UK for the final leg of discussions, which started on 7 July 2016. Multinational bidders, including Mexico’s Cemex and China’s Anhui Conch, are believed to have bid aggressively. Domestic bidders Ajay Piramal Group, Nirma and Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Cement also submitted bids earlier in the week.
The bids are in the range of Euro1.19-1.33bn, which implies an enterprise value of US$108-121/t, comparable to UltraTech’s recent acquisition of JP Group’s cement assets for US$116/t.
“This discussion in London could take three to four days to finalise,” said a banker familiar with the development. “The winner will be decided not just on the price quoted for assets but also other conditions for the bid,” he said. Once the winning bid is decided, an exclusivity agreement will be signed with the bidder and it will take around three months to complete the deal.