The "Holderbank" Group witnessed another successful business year in 1998 and achieved further impressive operating and financial progress; operating profit and net income enjoyed strong growth.
On practically unchanged consolidated net sales of CHF 11.268 billion (1997: CHF 11.265 billion), "Holderbank" reported a Group operating profit of CHF 1.567 billion (1997: CHF 1.435 billion), a consolidated net income before minority interests of CHF 837 million (1997: CHF 755 million) and a consolidated net income after minority interests of CHF 682 million (1997: CHF 618 million). These figures correspond to earnings per dividend-carrying bearer share of CHF 96.10 (1997: CHF 87.40). Cash flow from operating activities showed an above-average increase to CHF 1.887 billion (1997: CHF 1.630 billion). This robust overall performance also reflects the good results posted by a number of Group companies in Europe, North and Latin America. The stronger Swiss franc had a negative impact, decreasing net sales by CHF 331 million and operating profit by CHF 35 million. Following the completion of construction work on several new kiln lines, net investments in property, plant and equipment fell to CHF 967 million (1997: CHF 1,400 million). By contrast, net financial investments rose sharply to CHF 1.751 billion (1997: CHF 0.441 billion). This reflects the strategically important acquisition of interests in Latin America and Asia.
Deliveries of cement and clinker increased to 68.4 million tonnes (1997: 64.3 million tonnes). Sales of aggregates rose to 83.9 million tonnes (1997: 81.1 million tonnes) and a total of 20.8 million cubic meters (1997: 19.4 million cubic meters) of ready-mixed concrete were sold.
Holding company "Holderbank" Financière Glaris Ltd. reported net earnings of CHF 141.9 million (1997: CHF 143.2 million) for the 1998 financial year. The Board of Directors will propose to the Annual General Meeting of 10 June 1999 in Zurich the payment of an unchanged dividend of CHF 20 per bearer and CHF 4 per registered share.
The Board of Directors will propose a capital increase to the Annual General Meeting of 10 June 1998. In a first stage, the authorized capital is to be increased in an amount equivalent to 4 percent of the present nominal capital, with subscription rights for existing shareholders. The company's principal shareholder, Schweizerische Cement-Industrie-Gesellschaft, will exercise its subscription rights in full. In a second stage, conditional capital in an amount of 2 to 3 percent of the present nominal capital is to be created and used for the issue of convertible securities. The funds thus generated will help to finance acquisitions and serve as a basis for further growth.
With majority and minority interests in over 60 countries on all continents, "Holderbank" is one of the world's leading suppliers of cement, as well as aggregates (gravel and sand), concrete and construction-related services. The Group employs some 40,000 people.