About Us - Press Release - CEMEX's first quarter 2003 net sales grew 2%; free cash flow increased 15% in dollar terms
April 11, 2003
CEMEX, S.A. de C.V. (NYSE: CX) announced today that its consolidated net sales for the first quarter of 2003 were US$1.6 billion, which represents a 2% increase in dollar terms compared with the first quarter of 2002. This growth was primarily due to the positive contribution of our newly acquired Puerto Rican unit, combined with higher volumes in Mexico, Spain, and the Central America & Caribbean operations. In real peso terms, net sales grew 8%, to MXP17.2 billion.
Our global consolidated cement sales volumes during the quarter were 14.9 million metric tons, up 5% compared with the first quarter of 2002, while ready-mix volumes were 28% higher, at 5.1 million cubic meters.
First-quarter free cash flow was US$97 million, up 15% in dollar terms compared with the same quarter of 2002. Quarterly EBITDA (operating profit plus depreciation and amortization) was down 5% to US$450 million. Our consolidated EBITDA margin fell to 28.2%, from 30.1% in the first quarter of 2001. The margin drop is attributable to the increased weight of our multi-products and ready mix sales -both of which have lower margins than cement sales. In real peso terms, EBITDA was MXP4.9 billion, 1% higher than the first quarter of 2002.
Hector Medina, Executive Vice President of Planning and Finance, said, "We are pleased to see that our first-quarter results are in line with full-year EBITDA that we provided at the start of the year. We remain optimistic about our major markets' medium to long-term economic outlook, as we firmly believe that we are in the bottom part of many of our markets' business cycles. Moreover, we expect that our diversified portfolio, the investments we've made in efficiency enhancement programs, along with our continued cost-cutting initiatives, will further bolster our business model and improve our free cash flow generation going forward."
First-quarter operating income decreased 6% in dollar terms, to US$301 million. In real peso terms, operating income remained practically flat, at MXP3.2 billion. Our selling, general and administrative expenses declined 7% in dollar terms versus the first quarter of 2002, primarily as a result of our cost cutting efforts, efficiency programs put in place, and the absence of expenses related to the CEMEX Way initiatives, which we incurred last year.
Majority net income for the first quarter majority was US$81 million (US$0.27 per ADR), which represents a 71% decrease year over year. The decline was primarily the result of a US$69 million foreign exchange loss (versus a gain of US$41 million in the year-ago period) and a loss in marketable securities of US$105 million (compared to a gain of US$45 million in the first quarter of 2002). In real peso terms, quarterly net income declined 69%, to MXP878 million (MXP0.58 per CPO).
During the quarter, our net debt increased by US$57 million, primarily as a result of foreign exchange movements.
Interest coverage ratio (EBITDA divided by interest expense plus preferred dividend, all for the last twelve months) was 5.0 times, versus 4.9 times a year ago. Our financial leverage ratio (net debt plus preferred equity to trailing twelve-month EBITDA) came in at 3.2 times, versus 2.7 times for the first quarter of last year.
CEMEX's Mexican operations reported net sales of US$633 million in the first quarter, a 2% growth versus the same period of 2002. Quarterly domestic cement sales volumes increased 11% for the quarter, driven by a strong residential sector and public works on infrastructure and highways. Ready-mix volumes grew 22% for the quarter.
In the United States, CEMEX's net sales were US$350 million, 9% lower than the first quarter of 2002. Quarterly EBITDA was 23% lower year-over-year, reaching US$67 million. Cement sales volumes decreased 3%, compared with the year-earlier period. A soft industrial and commercial sector, lower public spending on infrastructure and highways, and bad weather during February and early March of 2003 were the main factors affecting cement demand during the quarter. Ready-mix volumes fell 1% for the quarter.
In Spain, the company's net sales and EBITDA grew 27% and 45%, reaching US$256 and US$77 million, respectively, compared with the first quarter of 2002. Domestic cement volumes increased 6%, and ready-mix volumes grew 3%. The low interest rate environment has benefited residential construction activity; the public works sector was also strong during the quarter and represented a strong source of cement and ready-mix demand.
CEMEX Venezuela reported a 47% decrease in sales, to US$51 million. EBITDA, at US$22 million, was 49% lower year over year. The decline in sales volume in the quarter is due to the difficult operating environment that affects the country, which has affected our ability to produce and distribute cement and ready-mix.
Our operations in Central America and the Caribbean reported quarterly net sales of US$144 million, up 33% vis-à-vis the first quarter of 2002. EBITDA also grew, by 22%, reaching US$34 million. Regional sales volumes for cement were 14% higher.
CEMEX Colombia's net sales were US$46 million, down 12% versus the year-earlier period. EBITDA, at US$26 million, was reduced 16%. Ready-mix volumes grew 41% for the quarter. Ready-mix demand was primarily driven by our increased penetration in the residential sector; ready-mix sales to the residential construction sector were 40% of total ready-mix sales, versus 9% during the same period last year.
CEMEX Egypt recorded a 1% decline in cement volumes during the quarter, versus the same period a year ago, and net sales were 32% lower, reaching US$26 million. The main driver of cement demand was the self-construction sector.
In the Asia region-which includes our operations in the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, and Bangladesh-, net sales of US$50 million grew 1% compared to the first quarter of 2002, on a 15% cement volumes growth.
CEMEX is a leading global producer and marketer of cement and ready-mix products, with operations concentrated in the world's most dynamic cement markets across four continents. CEMEX combines a deep knowledge of the local markets with its global network and information technology systems to provide world-class products and services to its customers, from individual homebuilders to large industrial contractors. For more information, visit www.cemex.com.
EBITDA is defined as operating income plus depreciation and amortization. Free cash flow is defined as EBITDA minus net interest expense, capital expenditures, increase or decrease in working capital, cash taxes, preferred equity dividend payments, employee profit-sharing payments paid in cash, U.S. dumping charges paid in cash and other cash items. Net debt is defined as total on balance sheet debt plus preferred equity and capital securities minus cash and cash equivalents.