HeidelbergCement announced its preliminary, unaudited figures for sales volumes, revenue, and result from current operations before and after depreciation and amortization for the fourth quarter and the whole of 2018. The company reported group revenue increased 10 percent to €4.7 billion in the fourth quarter 2018 compared to the prior-year period. Full year group revenue rose by 5 percent to €18.1 billion.
“In 2018, we achieved new record values in sales volumes and revenue,” said Dr. Bernd Scheifele, chairman of the managing board. “In operational terms, we were almost able to offset the impact of adverse weather conditions, particularly in the USA, and the higher than expected cost inflation through growth in sales volumes and price increases. Our action plan is also producing its first results: thanks to the accelerated portfolio optimization and expenditure discipline, we were able to reduce net debt at year end to below €8.4 billion.”
In the fourth quarter, the company increased the sales volumes of cement and ready-mixed concrete compared with the same quarter of the previous year. Cement and clinker sales volumes rose by 2 percent to 33 million metric tons. Deliveries of aggregates remained stable at 76 million metric tons. The growth in North America and in Western and Southern Europe offset declines in the other group areas. Sales volumes of ready-mixed concrete increased by 8 percent to 13 million metric tons.
For the full year, cement and clinker sales volumes increased by 3 percent compared with the previous year to 130 million metric tons. Deliveries of aggregates rose slightly by 1 percent to 309 million metric tons. Deliveries of ready-mixed concrete increased by 4 percent to 49 million cubic meters.
In North America, demand for building materials increased further, particularly as a result of sustained economic growth and falling unemployment figures. However, construction activity was hampered by the long winter in the north and heavy rainfall, particularly in the north and southwest of the USA. Like-for-like, HeidelbergCement achieved a slight increase in sales volumes of cement, aggregates, and ready-mixed concrete in 2018, despite adverse weather conditions both over the year as a whole and in the fourth quarter.
Development of revenue was impaired by negative currency effects. Like-for-like, revenue rose by 3 percent over the full year and by 4 percent in the fourth quarter. In contrast, the result from current operations in 2018 was below the previous year. Non-recurring income of €79 million from the sale of an exhausted quarry in the fourth quarter of 2017 was not available in 2018. In addition, the development of results was negatively impacted by a considerable increase in costs, including fuel costs.
On the company’s outlook for 2019, Dr. Scheifele stated, “Considering the overall positive outlook for the global economy, we are confident about the future. We assume that some of the factors that impaired our results in 2018 will not be present in 2019. In particular, this relates to the adverse weather conditions in the USA, energy price inflation that was stronger than expected, and the price collapse in Indonesia.”
He continued, “In 2019, we will focus on our action plan in order to accelerate our portfolio optimization and increase cash flow and margins. In addition, we will press ahead with the digitalization of our entire value chain in order to further improve our operational excellence. In view of our strong positioning in raw material reserves and production sites in attractive locations, the unique vertical integration, our excellent product portfolio, and our industry-leading margin management, we believe we are well equipped for the opportunities and challenges of 2019.”