2018 was characterised by a stable, solid performance for TITAN. The Group navigated successfully the challenges of subdued demand and margin pressure in several regions and capitalized on the opportunities markets such as the US continue to offer. At the same time, TITAN remained focused on the enduring objective of balanced, responsible and sustainable long-term growth, embracing change as an organization and innovating at an accelerated pace.
Group consolidated turnover for 2018 stood at €1,490.1m, recording a marginal 1% decline compared to 2017. Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) declined by 5% to €259.7m. Group Net Profit after minority interests and the provision for taxes reached €53.8m, posting a 26% increase compared to 2017.
In the fourth quarter of 2018 the Group recorded an increase across all operating performance indicators, as the improvement in performance which began to take place half-way through the year, continued. All Group regions recorded an improvement in results against the last quarter of 2017, with the exception of the Eastern Mediterranean. Total Group turnover increased by 7.5% reaching €388.2m and EBITDA increased by 6.6% to €62.8m. Group Net Profit after minority interests and the provision for taxes reached €3.6m, against €9.6m in 2017.
The Board of Directors intends to propose to the Annual General Meeting of shareholders, scheduled for 7th June, 2019, a dividend distribution of €0.15 per issued share versus the previous year’s dividend distribution of €0.05 per issued share. The exact amounts to be distributed per share will be adjusted upwards to include the amounts corresponding to company treasury shares.
|*after tax and minority interests
REVIEW OF OPERATIONS
Once again in 2018, the USA was the main profit generator for the Group. The economic and population growth rates characterising the regions in which the Group is active, have resulted in an increase in demand for both residential and commercial real estate, against a backdrop of increased infrastructure needs as well, which is over and above the country’s average growth rates as a whole. In 2018, the improvement in results recorded in Florida, counterbalanced the lower profitability of the mid-Atlantic region which was affected by protracted inclement weather and an increase in competition in the broader New York area. In US$-terms, turnover in the USA increased by 3% crossing the US$1bn threshold (US$1,015m) and EBITDA was stable. In Euro-terms, turnover stood at €860.1m, posting a 1.5% decrease and EBITDA reached €177.9m, recording a 3.9% decline compared to 2017.
Building activity in Greece remained at very low levels in 2018. The timetable for the start of several major projects slipped into the following year. Demand exhibited some positive trends in regions with tourism development; on the whole, however, private building activity remained subdued. Operating margins came under pressure throughout 2018, due to increased energy costs which could not be carried over onto the market. Cement exports were close to 2017 levels, with the USA being the main destination. Total turnover for region Greece and Western Europe in 2018 reached €237.1m, a 4.7% decline compared to 2017. EBITDA stood at €10.9m versus €18.3m in 2017, €7.4m below the previous year.
The markets of Southeastern Europe recorded an increase in building activity and an improvement in results in the context of the mild economic upturn experienced by the region in recent years. Here too, however, results were penalized by increased energy costs, which were nevertheless partially mitigated thanks to the investments in the use of alternative fuels undertaken by the Group over the last few years. Turnover in 2018 increased by 5.7% reaching €238.6m and EBITDA improved by 4.9% to reach €59.7m.
Operating results in the Eastern Mediterranean region, comprising of Egypt and Turkey, declined in 2018. Turnover reached €154.3m posting a 2.5% drop, while EBITDA stood at €11.4m, 13.8% lower compared to 2017.
In Egypt, cement consumption is estimated to have declined by about 6%. At the same time, a new 12 mt cement plant entered the market during Q2 2018, resulting in a considerable increase of supply over-capacity. The resulting decrease of capacity utilization of Titan Cement Egypt, combined with the inability to pass on the steep increase in electricity costs and the imposition of additional levies per ton of cement produced, practically wiped out profitability.
Group activity in Turkey, declined following the sharp contraction in construction activity in the second half of the year under the shadow of the Turkish economy’s recession. In addition, the 38% slide in value of the Turkish Lira against the Euro in the course of the year and the increase in the cost of energy further impacted results. The net result attributed to the Group from our subsidiary in Turkey for the period 1/1/2018 – 30/9/2018, was a loss of €2.9m against a €0.5m profit in 2017. It should be noted that results from the Group’s Turkish operations are accounted for with the equity method until 30/9/2018, while the final quarter of 2018 is fully consolidated.
Demand in Brazil exhibited gradually encouraging trends in the course of 2018. The market almost stabilised following four years of consecutive declines. Results at the Apodi JV improved both in terms of turnover and EBITDA. The net result attributed to the Group was a limited loss of €2.6m, against the €9.5m loss recorded in 2017.
FINANCING & INVESTMENTS
Group capex in 2018 stood at €119m, €4m less than in 2017. About half of that was directed to the US. The above amount also includes €12m paid as a one-off retroactive license fee for the Beni Suef cement plant in Egypt.
Following the agreement which was completed in October 2018 between TITAN Group and Cem Sak Group, TITAN Group holds 75% of Adocim Cimento Beton Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S. (Adocim), which owns an integrated cement plant in Tokat – Turkey, with a production capacity of 1.5 million tons of cement and three ready-mix concrete units.
Group operating cash flow stood at €148m, increased by €30m compared to 2017, benefiting from the stabilisation of working capital requirements. Group net debt as at 31st December, 2018, stood at €772m, increased by €49m against net debt levels of 31st December, 2017.
In January 2018, TITAN Global Finance Plc. Completed the issuance of €100m of additional notes in connection with the reopening of the 2.375% notes of nominal value €250m it issued in November 2017, resulting in a total issue of €350m notes due in November 2024.
In November 2018, Standard & Poor’s renewed its outlook on the Group assigning TITAN a credit rating of “BB+” on a negative outlook.
The total number of treasury shares held by the Company on 31st December 2018 was 4,558,481 of which 4,361,171 were common shares and 197,310 were preferred shares. Voting rights held by the Company represented 5.66% of total voting rights.
PUBLIC TENDER OFFER
On 18th October 2018, TITAN Cement International S.A. (TCI), a Belgian company, announced the submission of a voluntary share exchange tender offer to acquire all of the ordinary and preference shares of the Company, in consideration for new shares issuable by TCI at an exchange ratio of one TCI share for each TITAN share. The purpose of the share exchange offer was to facilitate the listing and the admission of shares of TITAN Group for trading on Euronext Brussels through the primary listing of all the shares of TCI, who would become the direct parent company of the Company and the ultimate parent company of TITAN Group, on Euronext Brussels. TCI had also applied for the secondary listing and admission for trading of its shares on the Athens Exchange and Euronext Paris.
On 28th January 2019, the Group announced that during the acceptance period of the voluntary share exchange offer submitted by ΤCI, approximately 87% of the ordinary and 92% of the preference shares of TITAN were tendered. Thus the 90% threshold for both classes of shares was not met and the offer lapsed.
OUTLOOK FOR 2019
In the US, construction trends remain favourable in the regions where the Group is active. The Portland Cement Association (PCA) forecast that cement consumption will increase by 2.3% in 2019 and by approximately 1.6% per annum over the period 2019-2023. TITAN Group is well positioned to take advantage of this growth, having a strong presence in expanding metropolitan areas and the operating leverage to meet growing demand.
In Greece, the restart of major projects is now anticipated for the second half of 2019, raising expectations of a medium-term pickup in construction activity. Works pertaining to tourism-related activities should maintain their positive evolution, thereby adding to the growth momentum generated. On the other hand, private residential activity will remain at low levels in 2019 as well.
In the countries of Southeastern Europe, continuing economic growth is expected to drive construction activity. Τhe Group’s plants are currently operating at levels below their nominal capacity and thanks to recent investments are increasing their competitiveness through the expansion of the use of alternative fuels, to the benefit of the Group’s operations as well as of the local communities.
In Egypt, demand should remain at levels similar to those of the previous year. Operating results seem likely to continue to be challenged by limited pricing power in the short term, despite initiatives to contain input cost increases.
In Turkey, the deterioration in macroeconomic indicators, in tandem with the pressure on the banking system, is expected to lead to a significant reduction in demand for building materials in the short term. The longer-term prospects of the construction sector, however, remain attractive. Adocim is well prepared to face the anticipated downturn, owing to its modern asset base, competitive cost structure and low gearing.
Last, in Brazil, political stability increases expectations for the launch of a new growth cycle in the cement market. Cement demand in Northeastern Brazil, where the Group is present, is driven by demographic growth and private building activity and is already recording positive trends since the beginning of the year.
PARENT COMPANY ΤΙΤΑΝ CEMENT S.A.
Turnover for TITAN Cement S.A. in 2018 declined by 2% reaching €229m while EBITDA increased to €27.2m versus €14.8m in 2017. Net Profit after Tax (NPAT) reached €33.3m in 2018 against €13.4m in 2017 and includes dividends received from subsidiaries abroad to the amount of €38.5m.
TITAN is an independent cement and building materials producer with over 110 years of industry experience. Based in Greece, the Group owns cement plants in ten countries and is organized in four geographic regions: Greece & Western Europe, the USA, Southeastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. Throughout its history TITAN has aimed to combine operational excellence with respect for people, society and the environment.
The above announcement was communicated to the ASE and the HCMC, and was also posted on the website of the Athens Stock Exchange.