Cement and aggregate buoyant

By Sandy Guthrie24 August 2010

A rise in consolidated cement sales and, more dramatically, aggregate sales, has been reported by Swiss-based Holcim, and while emerging markets continue to grow, Europe is still experiencing difficult business conditions.

Holcim, one of the world's leading suppliers of cement and aggregates, said that the overall economic picture improved slightly after a first quarter beset by heavy winter snowfall. It said that in some Western European markets and in North America, demand for building materials increased, while Asia remained on a growth trajectory. It reported that Latin America and, in particular, the Africa/Middle East region held up well.

However, Holcim felt that there was no global economic recovery, with elements of uncertainty making forecasting difficult.

The Holcim Group, it said, benefited from its strong presence in emerging markets, which accounted for more than 50% of consolidated net sales and more than 70% of operating earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in the first half of this year.

The large Asian economies such as India, Indonesia and the Philippines recorded particularly strong growth, as did Brazil. Australia made an important contribution to the Group's success, too. Holcim Australia, with a substantial position in the aggregates and ready-mix concrete sectors, has been fully consolidated since last autumn, as has local cement group Cement Australia.

Overall in the first half of 2010, consolidated cement sales grew by 4,1% to 67,8 million tonnes. Sales of aggregates increased by 17,1% to 73,2 million tonnes, while sales of ready-mix concrete grew by 13,5% to 21,9 million m3.

Compared to the first quarter, sales increased in all segments, with the main contribution to volume growth coming from Holcim Australia. Group companies in the UK, Canada, Brazil and Morocco sold significantly more aggregate, while Group companies in Canada, India and Vietnam saw marked increases in sales of ready-mix concrete.

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