Switzerland: Holcim has reported improved earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) and better prices in all regions in the first quarter of 2012. Overall, Holcim achieved an operating EBITDA close that seen in the first quarter of 2011, with like-for-like operating EBITDA growth reaching 5.5%. Consolidated net sales increased by 2.2% to Euro4.0bn. In absolute terms, Asia Pacific ranked first with net sales of Euro1.83bn.
Holcim's net income of Euro96.6m was almost as high as the level reached in the first quarter of 2011 and the net income attributable to shareholders of Holcim Ltd rose by 1.2% to Euro8.3m.
Another positive development is the fact that Holcim was able to mostly pass on cost increases through higher sales prices in all segments and in all regions (except Africa and the Middle East). The company also reported that it had reduced its net debt by nearly 5% over the 12 months to 31 March 2012.
Consolidated cement deliveries increased by 6.2% to 35.2Mt due to good economic conditions in Asia and Latin America and growing demand for construction materials in North America, Africa and the Middle East. With shipments of cement up by more than 1.8Mt, Asia Pacific was well ahead in terms of volume, mainly due to India. Higher shipments also were achieved in the US, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia as well as in Russia and Azerbaijan.
However, in contrast to last year's mild climate, the harsh winter brought many construction sites in Europe to a temporary standstill in February 2012. Sales volumes decreased in this region in all of Holcim's business segments as a result, impacting on the company's first quarter results.
Holcim expects demand for building materials to rise in emerging markets in Asia and Latin America, as well as in Russia and Azerbaijan in 2012. A slight improvement for North America can also be expected. In Europe, demand should remain stable, provided that the situation is not undermined by further systemic shocks. In any case, Holcim says that will give cost management its closest attention and pass on inflation-induced cost increases. Holcim says that its approach to new investments will be cautious and that it expects that it will achieve organic growth at operating EBITDA level in 2012.