HeidelbergCement Profit, Sales Rise on Cost Cuts, Weather

HeidelbergCement AG, the world’s third-largest maker of cement, said fourth-quarter profit and sales rose as the company reduced spending and mild weather extended the construction season in some of its main markets.

Operating profit rose 6.9 percent to 410 million euros ($545 million), the Heidelberg, Germany-based company said in a statement today. Earnings beat the average estimate of 388.8 million euros in a Bloomberg survey. Sales jumped 14 percent to 3.28 billion euros, the seventh consecutive quarterly increase and topping an estimate for 3.05 billion euros.

HeidelbergCement cut costs and boosted production in faster-growing emerging countries to help offset slower demand in regions including North America and an increase in energy costs. A savings plan generated more than 100 million euros in reductions last year, more than planned, the company said.

“We are pleased that we achieved our goal of increasing revenue and operating income in 2011 despite the significant surge in energy costs earlier this year,” Chief Executive Officer Bernd Scheifele said in the statement. Full-year sales rose 11 percent, with operating profit advancing 3.2 percent.

Earnings were helped by a gain of less than 10 million euros from the sale of excess carbon dioxide emission allowances in 2011, the company said. HeidelbergCement cut more than 1,200 jobs in North America, the U.K. and some eastern European countries.

Sales volume for cement rose 15 percent in the quarter, while the volume of aggregates rose 7.7 percent and volume of ready-mix concrete rose 12 percent. Revenue growth at 19 percent was highest in the Asia-Pacific region, with 18 percent for the eastern Europe-central Asia region.

Dyckerhoff AG, the German cement maker owned by Italy’s Buzzi Unicem SpA, predicted stable sales and profit for this year on Feb. 6.

Lafarge SA, the world’s largest cement maker, is scheduled to release its fourth-quarter report on Feb. 17, with Holcim Ltd., the industry’s number two, following on Feb. 29.

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