Wienerberger AG continued on its growth course in the first half of 2015 with an increase of 9 % in revenues to € 1.47 bill. and a significant 34 % improvement in operating EBITDA to € 181.0 mill.
Residential construction in Europe was stable to slightly positive during the first six months of 2015, but still characterized by very different regional trends. Great Britain and the Netherlands remained dynamic markets as well as the Eastern European core markets Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland. In contrast, difficult market conditions affected France, Italy and Russia. In addition, detached and semi-detached house construction in Austria, Germany and Switzerland was weaker than expected while the renovation market slowed notably. Wienerberger therefore recorded slightly lower volumes in the first half of 2015. However, this decline was offset by an increase in average prices and an improvement in the product mix. Positive effects also resulted from leaner cost structures, the optimization of production processes and lower energy costs. The Clay Building Materials Europe Division recorded an increase of 11 % in revenues to € 798.2 mill. compared to the previous year. The operating EBITDA was increased by 16 % to € 112.9 mill. The East European roofing business, which has been fully consolidated since last year, generated revenues of € 62.1 mill. and operating EBITDA of € 5.6 mill.
The North America Division increased revenues to € 131.7 mill., even though US residential construction fell short of expectations. Volumes therefore remained at the prior year level. However, the brick business was supported by a slight improvement in average prices, successful cost reduction measures, a property sale contributing € 12.5 mill. and the stronger US dollar. The North American plastic pipe business showed generally stable development during the first six months. These factors led to a significant increase in operating EBITDA to € 20.7 mill.
Investments totalled approx. € 60.4 mill. (2014: € 52.3 mill.) and consisted primarily of expenditures for maintenance and investments in technical upgrades for production processes as well as a smaller component for growth projects.
Outlook and strategy
Wienerberger expects a continuation of the current trends during the remainder of this year, but with regional differences. Stable to slightly stronger growth is anticipated in Europe and should result in volumes in line with the markets for the Clay Building Materials Europe Division. Higher average prices, an improvement in the product mix and the further optimization of cost structures will support sound revenue and earnings growth. The ceramic wastewater systems activities should improve substantially based on exports to the Middle East. Expectations for US residential construction are more subdued than at the beginning of the year, but the group still expects a sound improvement in revenues and earnings for its North America Division in 2015.