LafargeHolcim posts surprise Q4 loss, keeps planned dividend

Swiss-French cement giant sees market demand expanding 2-4 per cent this year

 LafargeHolcim chief executive  Eric Olsen. The Swiss-French cement giant  posted a surprise fourth-quarter loss.

LafargeHolcim chief executive Eric Olsen. The Swiss-French cement giant posted a surprise fourth-quarter loss.

 

LafargeHolcim, the Swiss-French cement giant in the midst of a post-merger restructuring, posted a surprise fourth-quarter loss of 2.86 billion Swiss francs (€2.5 billion) after booking 3 billion francs in impairment and other charges.

It maintained its proposal for a 1.50 franc per share dividend announced in November and said it was on track to hit its 2018 financial targets.

Adjusted operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) fell to 1.40 billion francs in the fourth quarter.

“Many of the key elements of the merger are now behind us,” chief executive Eric Olsen said, adding synergies would keep gaining momentum in 2016 with “notably more” than 450 million francs of incremental Ebitda synergies expected this year.

Its net debt fell by 1 billion francs to 17.3 billion francs in the quarter, and it reiterated its aim to maintain a solid investment grade debt rating. It expects net debt to drop to around 13 billion francs in 2016.

It sees market demand expanding 2-4 per cent this year, with emerging markets growing overall despite challenging conditions in some markets.

LafargeHolcim said it had completed a portfolio review, with a 3.5 billion franc programme of divestments under way with confirmed deals in South Korea and Saudi Arabia. In Morocco it agreed with partner SNI to enlarge a joint venture by merging Lafarge Ciments Maroc and Holcim Maroc.

Reuters