The group says that significant drivers behind this success were its programmes to improve efficiency and margins; price increases in key markets; energy costs that were slightly below the previous year, and positive exchange rate effects due to the weakening of the euro.
“2015 was by far the best year for HeidelbergCement since the financial crisis,” says Dr Bernd Scheifele, chairman of the managing board.
“Despite the slowdown of the global economy in the course of the year, we were able to significantly increase our operating income as anticipated. Our strict focus on improving efficiency and margins in recent years, our advantageous geographical positioning, and continuous investments in growth have made a significant contribution.”
For the full year, the most successful year since the financial crisis, revenue rose by 7% to €13.5 billion while operating income before depreciation (OIBD) increased by 14% to €2.6 billion, and net debt was reduced to around €5.3 billion.
The preliminary figures also show that in the fourth-quarter revenue increased by 2% to €3.4 billion and operating income before depreciation improved by 11% to €696 million.
The group says that sales volumes of the core products cement and ready-mixed concrete have recorded a stable development compared with the previous year.
The rise in cement deliveries in North America and Africa almost compensated for the decrease in Europe and Asia.
In ready-mixed concrete, the contraction of the Asian market was more than offset by the positive development of sales volumes in Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland and Georgia, and in North America.
The growth in aggregates sales volumes can be attributed to the favourable trend in North America and Eastern Europe.
“Considering the overall positive outlook for the global economy and our advantageous geographical positioning, we are confident about the future,” says DrScheifele.
“At the same time, we are aware of the growing geopolitical risks, the potential effects of which are difficult to assess right now. HeidelbergCement is very well equipped to follow up on the new strategic priorities, growth and increase in shareholder value, over the coming years.
“In the current year, we are focussed on the successful conclusion of the takeover of Italcementi. Following the successful takeover, we will take particular care to quickly leverage the synergy potential and reduce our net debt-to-equity ratio (gearing) so it is back within our target range by the end of the year.
“Our programmes to improve efficiency and margins will also be consistently pursued in 2016. It is our aim to continue to improve our work processes in commercial and operational terms for cement (CIP, Continuous Improvement Programme); aggregates (Aggregates CI), and logistics (LEO).
“In 2016, we will once again benefit from the economic development in the industrial countries, particularly in North America and the United Kingdom.
“In view of our strong positioning in raw material reserves and production sites in attractive locations, the unique vertical integration, and our excellent product portfolio, we believe we are well equipped for the opportunities and challenges of 2016.”