Even through the bottom line showed a small loss of € 8 mill., a free cash flow of € 93 mill. in the past year demonstrated the strength of the Wienerberger business model, commented Heimo Scheuch, Chief Executive Officer of Wienerberger AG. Net debt was cut from € 602 mill. at year-end 2012 to € 539 mill. at the end of 2013. Restructuring measures implemented as planned in the Clay Building Materials Europe Division and at Semmelrock brought € 19 mill. in cost savings. Normal capex, which includes maintenance and technological improvements, amounted to € 106 mill. and remained below the € 115 mill. budgeted at the beginning of the year.
In 2013, Wienerberger AG increased its revenues to € 2.7 bill. and the operating EBITDA by 9% to € 266.5 mill.
Average prices roughly matched the prior year, whereby Wienerberger was able to implement price adjustments to cover cost inflation in Western Europe. In Eastern Europe, a proactive pricing policy led to an increase in market shares. The Clay Building Materials Europe Division recorded a 3% year-on-year decline in revenues to € 1402.4 mill. and a 7% drop in operating EBITDA to € 171.3 mill. for 2013. The restructuring programme launched in the third quarter of 2012 to align cost structures with the market, above all in the Western European clay block and facing brick business, is being implemented as planned. Cost structures were improved and savings realized through the optimization of shift models, the mothballing of plants, structural adjustments in administration and sales as well as the creation of additional plant clusters and market-related product allocation.
North America Division
Sound development was recorded in North America, where the recovery in US new residential construction continued. Higher volumes and strict cost management led to higher margins in the US brick business. The North America Division reported an increase of 16% in revenues to € 224.7 mill. and 35% in operating EBITDA to € 13.2 mill. in 2013.
Wienerberger’s goal is to continue its growth course in 2014, revenues and earnings are to be increased substantially. Wienerberger wants to return to the profit zone. Heimo Scheuch is expecting operating EBITDA of roughly € 300 mill. in 2014 and stabilization to slight growth in the construction of new housing in Europe and continuation of the positive trend in the USA.
€ 125 mill. have been budgeted for normal capex in 2014. Selective opportunities for smaller, value-creating acquisitions are to be taken.
In the operating business, Wienerberger intends to continue its focus on organic growth over the coming years. In the Clay Building Materials Division, a mineral wool-filled clay block successfully positioned in Germany is to be pushed ahead in other countries. In the Czech Republic a new brick filling line will be commissioned in the first quarter of 2014.