"Holderbank" Financière Glaris Ltd. ("Holderbank") has succeeded in bettering last year's excellent first-half performance. Consolidated net sales increased 5.5 percent to CHF 5,660 million, and operating profit was 4.2 percent higher at CHF 749 million. Group net income after minority interests improved 7.2 percent to CHF 311 million, and earnings per bearer share (fully diluted) rose 8.2 percent to CHF 43.50. By contrast, at CHF 483 (first half 1998: 485) million, cash flow from operating activities was static. However, adjusted for currency effects and changes in the scope of consolidation, this parameter shows a 13.0 percent increase. The operating cash flow margin (EBITDA margin), a key indicator in the cement industry, moved up to an impressive 23.3 percent.
The first half 1999 saw a number of changes in terms of the Group's scope of consolidation, the first-time consolidation of Juan Minetti (Argentina) making the biggest impact. Under a concerted drive to refocus activities on core sectors, "Holderbank" divested itself of several concrete chemical companies and diverse operations in Europe and overseas. All key business sectors reported an increase in sales volumes. Deliveries of cement and clinker were up by an encouraging 11.4 percent, sales of aggregates rose 5.3 percent, and shipments of ready-mixed concrete lifted by 4.0 percent. "Holderbank" expects its full-year 1999 Group profit to exceed the 1998 result.
The improved operating result was driven mainly by sales growth, but is also due in part to lower costs and higher prices. A geographic breakdown of operating profit shows that results picked up in Europe and North America as well as in Group region Africa Middle East. Harsher economic conditions were behind the albeit modest decreases in operating profit reported by the two Group regions Latin America and Asia Pacific.
"Holderbank" invested a total of CHF 963 million in the first half 1999. Running to CHF 497 million (first half 1998: 285), financial investments were used to fund major acquisitions in Argentina, Egypt and Thailand. The remaining CHF 466 million (first half 1998: 432) were channeled into expansion projects and measures designed to maintain productivity and secure competitiveness. 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.