- Holcim Leadership Journey contributes CHF 748 million to operating profit in 2014; significantly exceeds overall target with total benefits of CHF 1.85 billion
- Improvement in like-for-like net sales and operating profit and in net income
- Cement volumes increase thanks to North America, Asia Pacific, and Africa Middle East
- Currency effects continue to impact Group’s financial performance
- Payout of CHF 1.30 per registered share
Fourth Quarter 2014
- Higher net sales and improved operating profit
- Like-for-like operating profit adjusted for merger and restructuring costs increases 19.2 percent
- Significant increase in net income
Outlook for 2015
- Like-for-like operating profit adjusted for merger-related costs between CHF 2.7 billion and 2.9 billion (on a stand-alone basis and unconnected to the proposed merger with Lafarge)
- Cement volumes to increase in all Group regions in 2015 with the exception of Europe
- Aggregates and ready-mix concrete volumes to increase
CEO Bernard Fontana: “Holcim achieved solid like-for-like performance in the financial year with a strong fourth quarter. The Group further increased its profitability and recorded a higher operating profit margin. The Holcim Leadership Journey significantly overachieved its targets and was a key contributor to the Group’s results building on an increased focus on customer excellence and ongoing cost discipline.”
In the financial year 2014, cement volumes exceeded the previous year’s level, backed by a stronger economy in North America and growth momentum in some emerging markets such as India, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Mexico offsetting a challenging situation in Latin America. Consolidated cement sales were up 1.0 percent to 140 million tonnes, a like-for-like increase of 1.4 percent.
Aggregates volumes were slightly below 2013 levels and decreased by 0.9 percent to 153 million tonnes in the year under review mainly attributable to the segment’s restructuring in Latin America during 2013 and lower demand in France. Group region North America recorded a significant increase in aggregates volumes. On a like-for-like basis, the decrease for the Group amounted to 0.4 percent.
Ready-mix concrete deliveries declined by 6.3 percent to 37 million cubic meters primarily as a result of restructuring initiatives implemented in Latin America in 2013 to refocus the segment. With the exception of North America, which posted moderate growth, all Group regions contributed to this negative development. Adjusted for changes in Group structure, the drop amounted to 4.9 percent. Asphalt volumes increased 12.4 percent to 10 million tonnes.
Holcim increased net sales by 3.0 percent on a like-for-like basis. Growth mostly resulted from price improvements in many regions, particularly in North America, against the backdrop of a favorable market environment and in Latin America in response to cost inflation. An unfavorable currency effect of 5.2 percent and negative changes in consolidation structure impacted the consolidated net sales performance in 2014 which was down 3.1 percent to CHF 19,110 million.
Like-for-like operating EBITDA adjusted for merger and restructuring costs of CHF 138 million increased by CHF 215 million or 5.5 percent in 2014. Consolidated operating EBITDA however was down 3.8 percent to CHF 3,747 million mainly as a result of negative currency effects and merger and restructuring related costs.
In 2014, operating profit adjusted for merger and restructuring costs of CHF 149 million went up by CHF 249 million or 10.6 percent on a like-for-like basis. Consolidated operating profit however was down 1.7 percent in 2014, at CHF 2,317 million. The currency-related effect impacted operating profit by CHF 147 million or 6.2 percent.
In the year under review, the Group’s operating profit margin increased by 0.2 percentage points to 12.1 percent. Adjusted for merger and restructuring costs booked in 2014, the operating profit margin progressed by 0.9 percentage points on a like-for-like basis. This margin improvement was mostly driven by higher prices underpinned by favorable volume development.
Net income increased 1.5 percent to CHF 1,619 million and net income attributable to shareholders of Holcim Ltd was up 1.2 percent to CHF 1,287 million.
Cash flow from operating activities was down CHF 288 million to CHF 2,498 million. Over the last twelve months the net financial debt of the Group was CHF 9,644 million, CHF 183 million up from CHF 9,461 million mainly due to an unfavorable currency impact of CHF 250 million.
In the fourth quarter of 2014, cement volumes decreased slightly by 0.6 percent to 34.4 million tonnes. Deliveries of aggregates were also down slightly by 0.7 percent to 39.4 million tonnes. Ready-mix concrete volumes contracted by 8.0 percent to 9.2 million cubic meters.
Fourth quarter consolidated net sales increased year-on-year by 1.9 percent to CHF 4,867 million. Operating EBITDA reached CHF 1,006 million, up 6.5 percent year-on-year. Adjusted for merger and restructuring costs booked in the quarter of CHF 56 million, like-for-like operating EBITDA growth reached CHF 111 million or 11.8 percent. Operating profit increased by 6.9 percent to CHF 598 million. Excluding merger and restructuring costs of CHF 58 million, operating profit growth reached CHF 108 million or 19.2 percent on a like-for-like basis. Net income was up markedly by 43.5 percent to CHF 458 million.
Holcim Leadership Journey
The Holcim Leadership Journey significantly overachieved its target and was a key contributor to the Group’s successful development thanks to the contributions of Holcim teams worldwide. Total realized benefits reached CHF 1.848 billion by the end of 2014, with cost initiatives contributing CHF 1.434 billion and Customer Excellence CHF 414 million. When launching the Holcim Leadership Journey, the Group committed to the target of a contribution to operating profit of CHF 1.5 billion by the end of 2014, compared to the base year 2011 and under similar market conditions. In 2014, the contribution of the Holcim Leadership Journey to the Group’s operating performance amounted to CHF 748 million.
Successful portfolio optimization
Holcim and Cemex successfully closed their series of transactions in Europe early in 2015. Holcim acquired Cemex’s operations in Western Germany and the Netherlands while Cemex took over Holcim Czech Republic with all its subsidiaries in the country. In Spain, Cemex purchased Holcim’s Gador cement plant and Yeles grinding station, while Holcim has kept its remaining operations. As a result of the transactions, Cemex paid Holcim EUR 45 million in cash. Holcim expects sustainable additional operating EBITDA of at least EUR 10 million on a yearly basis.
Holcim regularly reviews its portfolio and has decided that the Group’s non-controlling interest of 27.5 percent in its joint venture Siam City Cement Public Company Limited is available for sale.
Creation of LafargeHolcim
Holcim and Lafarge have continued to reach further important milestones on the path to creating the most advanced group in the building materials industry and remain on track to complete their merger in the first half of 2015.
In December 2014, Holcim and Lafarge received clearance from the European Commission for their proposed merger following constructive discussions with the Commission in the pre-notification period and throughout its Phase I investigation. Also in December 2014, both companies annouced the future Executive Committee of the new Group. Holcim and Lafarge announced in early February 2015 that they have entered into exclusive negotiations further to a binding commitment made by CRH regarding the sale of several assets which had been identified previously and include operations in Europe, Canada, Brazil, and the Philippines.
Revised definition of Senior Management
Effective January 1, 2015, Senior Management is composed of the members of the Executive Committee of Holcim Ltd.
Proposals to the Annual General Meeting - payout
The Group is adhering to its principle that one-third of net income attributable to shareholders of Holcim Ltd should be distributed to shareholders. At the Annual General Meeting, which is scheduled for April 13, 2015, the Board of Directors will propose a payout from the capital contribution reserves corresponding to CHF 1.30 per registered share.
Outlook for 2015
Holcim expects for 2015 that the global economy continues its gradual recovery. Key construction markets of Holcim in countries like the USA, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Colombia, the UK, and the Philippines are expected to be the main growth drivers.
Europe overall should have a flat development. Latin America will continue to face uncertainties in countries such as Argentina and Brazil but should overall show slight growth in 2015. The Asia Pacific region is expected to grow although at a still modest pace. Africa Middle East is expected gradually to improve.
In this environment cement volumes should increase in all Group regions in 2015 with the exception of Europe. Aggregate and ready-mix concrete volumes are expected to increase.
On a stand-alone basis and unconnected to the proposed merger with Lafarge,the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of Holcim expect like-for-like operating profit adjusted for merger-related costs to be between CHF 2.7 billion and 2.9 billion in 2015. Higher pricing and ongoing cost savings are anticipated to offset cost inflation, leading to a further expansion in operating margins in 2015.