On 31 December 2016, the Group’s net debt amounted to € 631.6 mill., as compared with € 534.1 mill. at the end of 2015. At the end of 2016, Wienerberger’s gearing stood at 34 % and net debt/EBITDA was 1.6 years.
Development of business in the Divisions
Clay Building Materials Europe
In 2016, the Clay Building Materials Europe Division generated revenues of € 1681.2 mill., up by 2 % from the previous year. In a moderately growing European residential construction market with diverging regional trends, Wienerberger was able to increase its sales volumes at slightly increased average prices. The level of activity in Western Europe was satisfactory while performance in the Eastern Europe region was strong. Gratifying was the steep increase in the Division’s operating result to € 290.7 mill., up by 17 % on the previous year. Future-oriented products, such as bricks filled with mineral wool, accounted for approx. 25 % of the Division’s revenues.
Pipes & Pavers Europe
The Pipes & Pavers Europe Division experienced a decline in revenues by 5 % to € 988.2 mill. in 2016. EBITDA dropped by 9 % to € 98.5 mill. over the same period. Moreover, business in all product groups – plastic pipes, ceramic pipes and concrete pavers – was characterized by extreme reticence of the public sector to invest in infrastructure projects in Eastern Europe, which in turn depressed the development of business in the Division.
The North America Division reported satisfactory results of both the US brick business and the activities in Canada. Housing construction in the USA was positive, and Wienerberger benefitted from the growing number of new housing starts in the single- and two-family home segment. In Canada, too, demand increased in the relevant markets.
Overall, revenues increased by 5 % to € 292.7 mill., while EBITDA remained stable at € 32.7 mill.
Outlook and strategy
For 2017, Wienerberger foresees a continuation of the progressive recovery in European residential construction, but expects business in the renovation segment to remain subdued. As regards infrastructure, demand is projected to stay at a satisfactory level in the Group’s Western and Northern European markets. Wienerberger is cautiously optimistic that a slight recovery of public sector investment activities may occur in Eastern Europe in the second half of the year. In North America, there are strong indications of continued growth in the residential construction market.