About Us - Press Release - CEMEX's third quarter 2003 EBITDA grew 13%; free cash flow increased 77% in dollar terms
October 9, 2003
CEMEX, S.A. de C.V. (NYSE: CX) announced today that its consolidated net sales for the third quarter of 2003 were US$1.8 billion, increasing 7% in dollar terms compared with the same period of 2002. The growth in sales was due to higher sales in Mexico, Spain, Colombia, Egypt, Central America and Caribbean region and our Asia region. In real peso terms, net sales also grew 7%, to MXP20.2 billion.
Our consolidated cement sales volume during the quarter was 16.9 million metric tons, up 5% compared with the third quarter of 2002, while ready-mix volumes were 10% higher, at 5.6 million cubic meters.
Free cash flow for the third quarter was US$384 million, up 77% in dollar terms compared with the same quarter of 2002. EBITDA (operating income plus depreciation and amortization) increased 13% to US$570 million. Our consolidated EBITDA margin was 31.1%, versus 29.3% in the third quarter of 2002. The two percentage-point increase was mainly due to higher sales and lower SG&A expenses. In real peso terms, EBITDA was MXP6.3 billion, up 13% compared with the same quarter of 2002.
Hector Medina, Executive Vice President of Planning and Finance, said, "During the third quarter, we produced operating income, EBITDA, and free cash flow solidly on track with our commitments for the full year. This performance has two important foundations; our principal markets are recovering, and our costs are trending lower. They represent the results of long-term strategies that will continue to pay off for years to come. This was a good quarter for CEMEX, but-more importantly-it was a good quarter that reflects underlying operating and financial strategies, trends, and commitments ".
Third-quarter operating income increased 14% in dollar terms, to US$405 million. In real peso terms, operating income grew 14% to MXP4.5 billion. Our selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses decreased 5%. SG&A as a percentage of sales decreased 2.6 percentage points versus the same period a year ago, and for the first nine months of 2003, they fell by 1.9 percentage points, reflecting CEMEX's continuing efforts to reduce overhead at the corporate and plant levels.
Majority net income for the third quarter was US$140 million (US$0.43 per ADR), increasing 749% from US$17 million in the year-ago quarter. The increase was primarily the result of stronger sales in most of our markets and continued efforts to reduce costs, combined with the improvement in the valuation of our marketable securities versus the third quarter of 2002. For the quarter, there was a gain in marketable securities of US$6 million, versus a loss of US$247 million in the year-earlier period.
At the end of the quarter, our net debt was US$5,676 million, representing a reduction of 10% versus the third quarter of last year. Free cash flow in the amount of US$215 million was used to reduce net debt during the quarter; however, when expressed in U.S. dollars, net debt decreased by US$153 million due to the appreciation of the Japanese Yen and the Euro versus the U.S. dollar during the quarter.
Our net debt to EBITDA ratio reached 2.8 times, versus 3.0 times at the end of the second quarter of 2003. CEMEX's interest coverage (EBITDA divided by interest expense plus preferred dividends, all for the last twelve months) was 5.0 times, versus 5.5 times a year ago.
CEMEX's Mexican operations reported net sales of US$663 million in the third quarter, a 5% growth versus the same period of 2002. EBITDA was up 12%, to US$308 million. Domestic gray cement sales volumes increased 1% for the quarter. Weather was an important factor affecting cement demand, with unusually high precipitation levels in August and September. The main drivers of demand in Mexico continue to be infrastructure projects and low-income housing.
In the United States, CEMEX's net sales were US$471 million, 1% lower than the third quarter of 2002. Quarterly EBITDA was 10% lower year-over-year, reaching US$111 million. Cement sales volumes increased 3%, compared with the year-earlier period. The increase in cement volume was mainly due to pent up demand built during the previous quarter as a result of bad weather conditions in the Southeast, combined with strong sales in the Midwest. The residential sector continues to benefit from low interest rates, while spending on infrastructure remains stable, but at a low level. Ready-mix volumes decreased 1% for the quarter.
In Spain, CEMEX's net sales and EBITDA in the third quarter grew 25% and 12%, reaching US$280 and US$76 million, respectively, compared with the same quarter of 2002. Domestic cement volumes increased 2%, and ready-mix volumes grew 9% compared to the year earlier period. Our Spanish operations continue to benefit from the high level of construction activity in the country. Residential construction is at high level, fueled by low interest rates, while infrastructure spending also remains at high levels due to Spain's infrastructure program.
CEMEX Venezuela reported a 1% growth in sales, reaching US$80 million. EBITDA was flat at US$39 million. Domestic cement volumes decreased 11%, and ready-mix volumes were 6% lower compared to the year earlier period Cement demand from the self construction sector was strong during the quarter, however there is still limited investment in infrastructure.
CEMEX Colombia's net sales were US$59 million, up 19% versus the year-ago period. EBITDA, at US$36 million, increased 16%. Cement volume was up 12% versus the third quarter of 2002, while ready-mix volume grew 39%. Private residential construction coupled with infrastructure investment in transportation have been the main drivers of cement and ready mix demand. The self construction sector is growing but at a low rate.
Our operations in Central America and the Caribbean reported quarterly net sales of US$151 million, up 4% vis-à-vis the third quarter of 2002. EBITDA also grew 5%, reaching US$37 million. Regional cement sales volumes for the quarter remained flat. The ready mix volume increased 26% primarily due to higher volumes in all of our markets, as well as the incorporation of Puerto Rican Cement, which has sizeable ready mix operations and was included in the consolidated results for two months during the third quarter of 2002.
CEMEX Egypt's sales and EBITDA increased 9%, to US$39 million and US$19 million, respectively. Cement volumes grew 1% compared to the third quarter of 2002. Investment in infrastructure remains as the main driver of demand, while spending in the commercial and tourism sectors remains at a low level.
Our Asian operations, which include the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan and Bangladesh, posted net sales of US$45 million, 18% higher than the same quarter of 2002. Domestic cement volumes declined 5%. Activity in the construction sector in the Philippines remains at a low level, driven mainly by decreased government spending in infrastructure. Cement demand was also affected during the quarter by a prolonged rainy season.
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, change in working capital, taxes paid, dividends on preferred equity and other cash items. Net debt is defined as total debt plus equity obligations minus cash and cash equivalents. All of the above items are presented under generally accepted accounting principles in Mexico. EBITDA and Free Cash Flow (as defined above) are presented herein because CEMEX believes that they are widely accepted as financial indicators of CEMEX's ability to internally fund capital expenditures and service or incur debt. EBITDA and Free Cash Flow should not be considered as indicators of CEMEX's financial performance, as alternatives to cash flow, as measures of liquidity or as being comparable to other similarly titled measures of other companies.