Bruno Lafont, CEO, to present strategic plan for the Group today
Target set for 8% yearly average growth in earnings per share
The Board of Directors of Lafarge, chaired by Bertrand Collomb, met on February 22, 2006 to approve the accounts for the year ending December 31, 2005.
2005 KEY FIGURES
- Sales + 11% to € 15,969 million. Up 14% in H2.
- Current operating income + 7% to € 2,357 million (up 4% at constant scope and currency).Up 17% in H2.
- Earnings per share + 2%
- Dividend +6% to € 2.55 per share subject to AGM approval
- Cash flow from operations + 4% to € 2,238 million. Up 19% in H2.
- Gearing down to 59% from 70% at the end of 2004 (IFRS)
- Cash flow from operations to net debt ratio stable at 31%
2005 GROUP HIGHLIGHTS
- Record level of current operating income and net income
- Strong H2, current operating income up 17%
- 8% organic growth in sales
- Double-digit increase in current operating income in Cement, Aggregates & Concrete and Gypsum
- Strong results in emerging markets (current operating income up 15%)
- Successful pricing management to cover sharp cost increases in main markets
- € 513 million invested in production capacities, mainly in growing markets.
BRUNO LAFONT, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF LAFARGE SINCE JANUARY 1, 2006, WILL TODAY PRESENT HIS STRATEGIC PLAN FOR THE GROUP.
Commenting on today's announcement and on future prospects for the Company, he declared:
“Our 2005 results are solid. They do not yet fully reflect Lafarge's uniquely strong potential. Our business portfolio is fundamentally sound and very promising. We can look to the future with confidence.
My ambition is to make Lafarge the undisputed leader in our industry. In the last two years, I have spent more than 200 days visiting the operations around the globe. I have met many people. They are fully dedicated to performance and driven by great ambition.
Together with the Executive team, we will drive our building materials strategy with discipline, lead the race in innovation and unlock the full potential in our operations. We will streamline our organization to improve efficiency and reduce costs to increase our operating margin by 1% by 2008. We will create value through profitable revenue growth and better cost control. It is my priority to ensure that our improvements translate into enhanced returns to shareholders.
Our strategic plan for the Group should translate into a sustainable 8% yearly average growth in Earnings Per Share and an improvement in return on capital employed.”
December 31, 2005
December 31, 2004
|Current operating income||2,357||2,201||+ 7%|
|Result before tax||1,848||1,601||+ 15%|
|Net income||1,096||1,046||+ 5%|
|Net income per share in €||€ 6.39||€ 6.26||+ 2%|
|Cash flow from operations||2,238||2,148||+ 4%|
|Group net debt||7,221||6,958||+ 4%|
Current Operating income
|December 31, 2005||December 31, 2004||Variation||Excluding currency effects||Of which H2 2005(1)|
|Aggregates and Concrete||398||357||+12%||+10%||+9%|
(1) Non audited figures
Overall, based on recent trends, markets are expected to remain favorable in 2006.
- In Cement, price increases are expected to be above cost inflation. Overall we anticipate strong demand and solid price increases, with a few exceptions.
- For Aggregates & Concrete, we expect overall modest growth in 2006 in the Aggregates business with, however, solid growth in emerging markets. Concrete markets should remain favorable on the whole.
- In Roofing, we expect Western European markets to improve, with the exception of Germany where pricing will remain under pressure.
- In Gypsum, 2006 should be favorable in Western Europe. Price increases should continue, though at a lower pace in North America compared to 2005.
- As far as costs are concerned, after the record increases of the last two years, we expect energy and logistics costs to increase further in 2006. As in previous years, risk management policies and performance programs should help to mitigate the impact of these increases.
The Board of Directors meeting held on February 22nd 2006 approved the following resolutions, subject to shareholder approval at the Annual General Meeting:
- a 6% increase in the dividend per share to € 2.55
- to stop scrip dividends to avoid earnings per share dilution.
- Sarbanes-Oxley certification will be achieved as of December 31, 2005, well in advance of the December 31, 2006 deadline set for non-US companies.
- Lafarge will therefore be one of the first companies outside North America to be Sarbanes-Oxley compliant.
GROUP OPERATING HIGHLIGHTS BY BUSINESS IN 2005
- Up 12% to € 8,314 million (+11% excluding currency effects).
- Up 17% in H2.
- Sales increase driven primarily by upward pricing trends in the context of sharply rising energy costs.
- Sales up in both Western Europe (+4%) and North America (+15%) on unchanged volumes compared to 2004.
- Sales up in emerging markets overall (+16%) with a 6% increase in volumes. The contribution of emerging markets to Cement sales rose to 48% in 2005 from 47% in 2004.
Current operating income
- Up 11% to € 1,770 million (+8% excluding currency effects).
- Current operating income up 21% in the second half of the year.
- In most markets, price increases offset the sharp rise in energy prices. Energy cost increases were limited thanks to the strong improvement in fuel mix, in particular the increased use of alternative fuels.
- Difficult pricing conditions impacted current operating income in Brazil and South Korea, where our long-term strategy is to maintain market share.
A slight decrease in current operating income in Western Europe
(-1%) was largely offset by a strong pricing performance in North America, with current operating income up 19%. Strong growth was achieved in emerging markets, where current operating income was up 18%. The contribution of emerging markets to Cement current operating income rose to 47% in 2005 from 44% in 2004.
- Operating margin down to 21.3%, from 21.6% in 2004.
- Stable return on capital employed after tax at 9.7%.*
AGGREGATES AND CONCRETE
- Up 13% to € 5,392 million (+11% excluding currency effects).
- Up 15% in H2.
- Sales increase mainly driven by solid pricing gains in a context of rising costs.
- Sales in Western Europe up 10% despite relatively low infrastructure spending, due to the positive scope effect of the Hupfer Holdings acquisition, good pricing and a favorable product mix.
- Strong sales growth in North America mostly driven by successful price increases in all markets.
Current operating income
- Up 12% to € 398 million (+10% excluding currency effects).
- Current operating income up 12% in the second half of the year.
- Current operating income up in Western Europe (+15%).
- In North America, the positive impact of strong pricing drove Aggregates results up. However, this was partially offset by some difficult Ready-mix concrete markets, in particular in Eastern Canada.
- Strong growth of current operating income was achieved in all other markets.
- Operating margin stable at 7.4% compared to 7.5% in 2004.
- Return on capital employed after tax at 8.1%, compared to 8.2% in 2004.*
- Up 1% to € 1,514 million (+1% excluding currency effects).
- Up 7% in H2.
- German construction market remained weak.
- Strong sales growth achieved in the United States (+25%).
Current operating income
- Down 34% (€ 98 million).
- Current operating income down 10% in the second half of the year.
- The decline in volumes in Germany put a strain on prices and resulted in a sharp drop in the use of production capacity in this market, despite extensive restructuring.
- Operating margin down to 6.5% from 10% in 2004.
- Return on capital employed after tax down to 3.6% from 5.5% in 2004.*
- Up 9% to € 1,479 million (+8% excluding currency effects).
- Up 12% in H2.
- Increase in sales, largely driven by favorable pricing in North America, as a result of a strong housing market and tight overall industry supply.
- Sales up 5% in other markets, with good levels of activity.
Current operating income
- Up 14% to € 151 million (+12% excluding currency effects).
- Current operating income up 24% in the second half of the year.
- Price increases offset higher energy, raw material and transport costs in most markets. North America reported strong growth with higher selling prices and continued strong demand more than offsetting cost increases.
- Operating margin up to 10.2% from 9.8% in 2004.
Return on capital employed after tax up to 10.2% from 9.3% in 2004.*
* At constant 2003 tax rate (28.6%)
Unallocated central cost increases are mostly due to the 2005 employee ownership plan, the non-cash stock option costs and costs related to the Sarbanes-Oxley certification.
CAPITAL EXPENDITURE AND DISPOSALS
Total investments amounted to €1,858 million compared to €1,557 million in 2004.
Capital expenditure totaled €1,454 million in 2005, of which:
- € 941 million for the ongoing upgrading and modernization of existing facilities
€513 million for additional production capacity, including major cement projects in Mexico, Bangladesh, Morocco, China and Vietnam, as well as the modernization of the New York Gypsum drywall plant and the construction of a new clay tile plant in the South of France.
Acquisitions amounted to € 404 million, the most significant being the purchase of the minority interests in our cement activities in South Korea, India and Japan; the Lafarge North America common stock repurchase; the acquisition of the aggregates and ready-mix assets in Kansas; the purchase of a grinding station in Spain and the increase in ownership in Betecna, the leading aggregates and concrete producer in Portugal.
Disposal of non-core assets in 2005 amounted to €154 million.
Lafarge, the world leader in building materials, holds top-ranking positions in all four of its Businesses: Cement, Aggregates & Concrete, Roofing and Gypsum. Lafarge employs 80,000 people in 75 countries and posted sales of €16 billion in 2005.
Lafarge's next financial publication - 1st Quarter 2006 sales - will be on May 2, 2006 (before the Euronext stock market opens).
For release worldwide with simultaneous release in the United States.
Statements made in this press release that are not historical facts, including our expectations for future volume and pricing trends, demand for our products, energy costs, increase in our earnings per share and in operating margin and other market developments are forward looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions ("Factors"), which are difficult to predict. Some of the Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to: whether the conditions of the tender offer will be satisfied; the cyclical nature of the Company's business; national and regional economic conditions in the countries in which the Company does business; currency fluctuations; seasonal nature of the Company's operations; levels of construction spending in major markets and, in particular, in North America; supply/demand structure of the industry; competition from new or existing competitors; unfavorable weather conditions during peak construction periods; changes in and implementation of environmental and other governmental regulations; our ability to successfully identify, complete and efficiently integrate acquisitions; our ability to successfully penetrate new markets; and other Factors disclosed in the Company's public filings with the French Autorité des Marchés Financiers and the US Securities and Exchange Commission including the Company's Reference Document and Annual Report on Form 20-F. In general, the Company is subject to the risks and uncertainties of the construction industry and of doing business throughout the world. The forward-looking statements are made as of this date and the Company undertakes no obligation to update them, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.