LafargeHolcim CEO launches overhaul, takes big Q4 charge

  • The Swiss group took a 3.8 billion Swiss franc ($4.04 billion) impairment charge during its fourth quarter as CEO Jan Jenisch cleared the decks for his overhaul.
  • The company's share price has slumped around 20 percent since a "merger of equals" between France's Lafarge and Switzerland's Holcim in 2015.

LafargeHolcim's new chief executive laid out on Friday his plan to revamp the world's biggest cement group by growing faster than the overall market and chopping costs.

The new five-year strategy targets annual sales growth of 3 to 5 percent, recurring EBITDA growth of at least 5 percent, improvement in free cash flow to over 40 percent of EBITDA, and boosting the return on invested capital to more than 8 percent.

The Swiss group took a 3.8 billion Swiss franc ($4.04 billion) impairment charge during its fourth quarter as CEO Jan Jenisch cleared the decks for his overhaul.

The company's share price has slumped around 20 percent since a "merger of equals" between France's Lafarge and Switzerland's Holcim in 2015.

The charge pushed LafargeHolcim into a net loss of 3.12 billion Swiss francs. Without the charge, net profit fell 31 percent to 270 million francs.

A wheel loader truck, manufactured by Volvo AB, collects kerogen shale rocks from a quarry operated by Holcim Ltd. in Dotternhausen, Germany, on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. Oyak Group, Turkey's military pension fund, has $2 billion in cash for acquisitions and may spend some of it on assets from cement makers Holcim and Lafarge
Martin Leissl | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A wheel loader truck, manufactured by Volvo AB, collects kerogen shale rocks from a quarry operated by Holcim Ltd. in Dotternhausen, Germany, on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. Oyak Group, Turkey's military pension fund, has $2 billion in cash for acquisitions and may spend some of it on assets from cement makers Holcim and Lafarge

Analysts polled by Reuters poll had expected net profit of 604 million francs.

Revenue rose 2.7 percent to 6.7 billion francs, beating estimates of 6.47 billion francs.

It unveiled a program to cut costs by 400 million francs a year by the first quarter of 2019, including by closing corporate offices in Singapore and Miami.