France: Lafarge has reported mixed results for the second quarter and first half of 2015, with lower cement volumes but higher sales for both periods.
In the second quarter of 2015, cement volumes decreased by 3% due to lower export sales. On its domestic markets, Lafarge's volumes increased by 2%. Cement prices fell by 0.5% year-on-year but rose by 0.5% quarter-on-quarter. Volumes were supported by continuing positive trends in many markets such as Romania, the Philippines, Egypt and Canada, while adverse weather limited growth in the US. Some markets faced more challenging economic and/or political environments. This was notably the case in France, where the construction sector remains subdued. In Brazil, Lafarge faces a very challenging overall environment. In Iraq and Syria difficulties in transporting cement across the country have prevailed since June 2014.
Lafarge's sales grew by 5% year-on-year to Euro3.54bn in the second quarter of 2015. Exchange rates continued to be favourable with a positive impact on sales of Euro249m or 8%, while the impact of Lafarge's divestments, notably in Ecuador, Russia and Pakistan, reduced its sales by 3% or Euro75m. Its earnings before income, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) improved by 1% to Euro820m, supported by favourable exchange rates with a positive impact of Euro52m or 6%. Its operating income fell by 3% year-on-year to Euro608m.
Results in the second quarter of 2015 were impacted by one-off items in connection with the creation of LafargeHolcim that was finalised on 10 July 2015. These one-off items include Euro450m of impairment on some of the assets to be divested to CRH in the third quarter of 2015. Pre-tax merger costs of Euro94m were booked in the second quarter of 2015 and one-off restructuring costs, mainly reflecting reorganisation measures in France, amounted to Euro51m, compared to Euro32m in the same period of 2014. Excluding one-off items, Lafarge's net income was Euro210m in the second quarter of 2015, down by Euro27m from the same period of 2014.
Lafarge received Euro232m in cash for divestments in the second quarter of 2015, mainly reflecting the proceeds for its operations in Pakistan. Investments totalled Euro262m. Capital expenditures remained limited at Euro82m compared to Euro67m in the second quarter of 2014. Development investments amounted to Euro180m, mainly including projects in North America (Exshaw in Canada and Ravena in the US) and in Algeria, as well as a few debottlenecking projects, notably in the Philippines.
For the first half of 2015, Lafarge has reported a 4% year-on-year reduction in cement sales to 54.7Mt, while its sales grew by 5% to Euro6.32bn. Its EBITDA grew by 6% to Euro1.22bn and its operating income grew by 8% to Euro813m.
For the entirety of 2015, Lafarge expects cement market growth of 1 - 4%. Cost inflation should continue albeit at a slower pace than in 2014, given the evolution of fuel oil prices. This should result in higher prices overall. Lafarge should also benefit from more favourable exchange rates.