Heidelberg Cement upbeat on 2015 outlook
HeidelbergCement expects positive macroeconomic developments this year in the United States and Britain, two of its key markets, as well as sustained strong demand in Africa and Asia, it said after reporting quarterly results on Tuesday.
The German company – which makes cement, concrete, building products and is the world’s biggest producer of sand, gravel and crushed-rock aggregates – also said it expected a tailwind from raw material prices, a weaker euro and lower global oil prices.
Its fourth-quarter operating income before depreciation (OIBD) rose 1% to 625 million euros ($708 million) on a comparable basis as efficiency measures just outweighed negative exchange rate effects.
That was in line with the company’s own analyst consensus of 629 million euros.
Sales rose 4% on a like-for-like basis – excluding results from its Hanson Building Products unit, which it agreed to sell in December for $1.4 billion – to 3.31 billion euros, beating its own consensus of 3.06 billion.
Growth was driven by continuing economic recovery in the United States and Britain and additional capacities in India, Africa, Indonesia and Kazakhstan. A mild European winter and falling energy costs also encouraged construction activity.
“In operational terms, 2014 was by far the most successful year for HeidelbergCement since the financial crisis,” Chief Executive Bernd Scheifele said in a statement.
He pointed to the company’s reduction of its net debt to below 7 billion euros from 7.5 billion at the end of 2013, not including proceeds from the building products unit sale, as well as the disposal itself and the sales and profit increases.