Heidelberg cautiously confident about 2014

By Helen Wright06 February 2014

Recovering economies around the world have fuelled a positive 2013 for cement producer HeidelbergCement, which is cautiously confident of further growth this year.

Preliminary figures for 2013 showed that revenues were stable year-on-year at €14 billion, while operating income was slightly above the previous year at €1.61 billion.

The company said the continuing recovery in North America and additional capacities that became available in India, Africa, Russia, and Australia had fuelled growth. It added that the emerging recovery in the UK also had a positive impact.

For 2014, HeidelbergCement forecast that the continuing economic recovery in North America would fuel a further increase in demand for building materials. Besides residential construction, it said commercial and infrastructure construction were also increasingly contributing to this growth.

Meanwhile, in Eastern Europe, the company said stabilisation of the markets was expected following the weak phase it experienced during 2013. It said Poland should be the first country in this area to benefit from the emerging recovery.

It said a further rise in demand for building materials was expected in Central Asia,. In Western and Northern Europe, it said positive market development was forecast in all countries. It added that this outlook was based on the healthy economic development in Germany and Northern Europe, as well as a recovery in the UK and Benelux.

In Asia and Africa, the group said it still expected sustained growth in demand.

Dr Bernd Scheifele, chairman of the managing board, said the company was cautiously confident about the future, but warned that substantial macro-economic risks still remained. “The effect of the tapering of the [US] Federal Reserve on the currencies in the emerging countries represents a considerable uncertainty. The decline in exchange rates in the second half of 2013 will also impair our revenue and results, particularly in the first half of 2014.

“We will focus on what we can directly influence – the management of our operational business. In 2014, we will once again work on further improving our margins by means of our ongoing programmes and a continued focus on reducing costs and increasing efficiency.”

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