The "Holderbank" Group witnessed a successful business year in 1999 and achieved further operating and financial progress; operating profit and net income increased again. The outlook for 2000 is very positive.
On consolidated net sales of CHF 12.194 billion (1998: CHF 11.268 billion), "Holderbank" reported a Group operating profit of CHF 1.706 billion (1998: CHF 1.567 billion) and a consolidated net income after minority interests of CHF 795 million (1998: CHF 682 million). These figures correspond to earnings per dividend-carrying bearer share of CHF 110.06 (1998: CHF 96.10). Cash flow from operating activities climbed slightly to CHF 1.902 billion (1998: CHF 1.887 billion).
This robust overall performance also reflects the good results posted by a number of Group companies in Europe, North America and Latin America. The Group's balanced holdings portfolio proved a particularly effective shield against the effects of crises. The slightly weaker Swiss franc had no material impact on the consolidated statement of income; net sales increased by CHF 173 million and operating profit by CHF 31 million as a result of currency effects. The modest rise in cash flow from operating activities is due to a substantial increase in interest payments as a result of the additional debts incurred to build up new and as yet unconsolidated interests in the emerging markets and to a massively increased tax load.
Following the construction of new capacity, especially in North America, net investments in property, plant and equipment climbed to CHF 1.111 billion (1998: CHF 967 million). By contrast, net financial investments fell sharply to CHF 773 million (1998: CHF 1.751 billion). In particular, these include the further reinforcement of holdings in Argentina, Thailand and Romania.
Deliveries of cement and clinker increased to 74.6 million tonnes (1998: 68.4 million tonnes). Sales of aggregates rose to 84.9 million tonnes (1998: 83.9 million tonnes) and a total of 21.8 million m3 (1998: 20.8 million m3) of ready-mixed concrete were sold.
Holding company "Holderbank" Financière Glaris Ltd. reported net earnings of CHF 160.6 million (1998: CHF 141.9 million) for the 1999 financial year. The Board of Directors will propose to the Annual General Meeting of 12 May 2000 in Siggenthal the payment of an increased dividend of CHF 22.00 (1998: CHF 20.00) per bearer and CHF 4.40 (1998: CHF 4.00) per registered share.
Barring currency changes and exceptional events, the Executive Committee expects a significantly better business year in 2000. A further consolidation of business is anticipated in the industrialized world and economic recovery is expected in the emerging markets.
With majority and minority interests in over 70 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 approximately 40,000 people.