According to its vice-president of finance, Fernando González, “2012 was a year of recovery for Cemex”.
It was, but the recovery still faces a long slog, judging by the fourth quarter results reported on Thursday by the Mexican cement and building materials giant.
With the burden of debt from the US housing crisis still weighing heavily, Cemex reported a quarterly net loss of $489m. That compared with a $761m loss a year earlier.
The market was not happy. The median forecast of analysts consulted by Dow Jones has been a $102m net loss. Shares fell 3.8 per cent to 13.28 pesos.
Sales were flat at $3.7bn while operating cash flow, or Ebitda, rose by 13 per cent year-on-year at $611m.
“During the year, we achieved the highest Ebitda generation and operating Ebitda margin since 2009 and the fourth quarter was the sixth consecutive quarter with a year-over-year Ebitda increase,” González said.
Only a day earlier, Cemex Latam Holdings, the spin-off that covers Central and part of South America, posted $88m in net profit in what was its first quarterly report to the Bogotá stock market, boosted by substantial sales increases in Colombia and Panama.
The parent company’s sales revealed mixed results. Sales grew by a very encouraging 11 percent year-on-year in the United States to $756m. In Mexico, sales were sluggish largely as a result of a drop in remittances from emigrants who traditionally spend heavily on self-build housing projects back home.
But the big drop in sales came from – you guessed it – Europe, where the fall was 8 per cent year-on-year to some $1.4bn.