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Edited Transcript of HEIG.DE earnings conference call or presentation 23-Feb-21 1:00pm GMT

·63 min read

Preliminary Q4 2020 HeidelbergCement AG Earnings Call Heidelberg Feb 25, 2021 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of HeidelbergCement AG earnings conference call or presentation Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 1:00:00pm GMT TEXT version of Transcript ================================================================================ Corporate Participants ================================================================================ * Christoph Beumelburg HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR * Dominik von Achten HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board * Lorenz Näger HeidelbergCement AG - CFO, Head of Finance, Accounting, Controlling, IT & Logistics and Deputy Chairman of Managing Board ================================================================================ Conference Call Participants ================================================================================ * Arnaud Lehmann BofA Securities, Research Division - Head of the European Construction & Building Materials and Director * Christian Korth HSBC, Research Division - Analyst * Elodie Rall JPMorgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Research Analyst * Gregor Kuglitsch UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Executive Director, Head of European Building & Construction Research and Equity Research Analyst * Harry Goad Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co. KG, Research Division - Analyst * Matthias Pfeifenberger Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Research Analyst * Nabil Ahmed Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Head of European Construction, Building Materials and Infrastructure Equity Research * Paul Barry Roger Exane BNP Paribas, Research Division - Sector Head of the Building Materials Team & Analyst of Building Materials * Stephan Bonhage Metzler Equities, Research Division - Research Analyst * Tobias Alfred Woerner Stifel Europe, Research Division - Research Analyst * Yassine Touahri On Field Investment Research LLP - Founding Partner ================================================================================ Presentation -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [1] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome, and thank you for joining the call on Preliminary Results Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2020 of HeidelbergCement. (Operator Instructions) I would now like to turn the conference over to Christoph Beumelburg. Please go ahead. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [2] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thank you, operator. Good afternoon, good morning, everyone listening to our call today. It's the trading statement call on our full year results 2020, preliminary results, as you'd say. And with me today, as always, are Dominik von Achten, our CEO; and Lorenz Näger, our CFO; as well as Ozan from the IR team. We have put the presentation on our website. So in case you haven't seen them, it's available on the IR section. And before we start, I would like to draw your attention to the disclaimer language on the last page of the presentation. We have great weather here today after a streak of cold weather. So with that -- which is always good for the building industry. With that, let's get on and over to you, Dominik. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [3] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanks, Chris, and welcome from my side here in 2021. And you see us here in the room in Heidelberg with a smile on our face, not just because of the sun that Chris already mentioned, but also looking at our results in 2020 and our first view into 2021. So I would love to take you through our presentation for a moment, and then we would love to take your questions, Lorenz and myself. If I go to the key messages, who would have thought in March/April 2020 that this is going to be a record EBITDA year for HeidelbergCement. I think that's something that the team has pulled off in a super effort. And it has also led to significant margin improvement, something we discussed during our Beyond 2020 strategic discussion. It clearly shows the exceptional resilience of the company in market conditions that, with all due respect, have been quite challenging. I remind you, in Q2, volumes were down 90%, partially in some months in some countries. So -- and here we are and have pulled off cash savings in our core program of almost EUR 1.3 billion. That I think is one key driver for the step change in net reduction, and that brought the leverage clearly below 2.0, and that's clearly within our target corridor that we communicated during the Beyond 2020 Capital Markets Day. For us, very important, we want to be the clear leader on CO2 in our industry, and we are the clear leader in industrially scaling the topic of carbon capture. You have heard about the project. I will remind you of some of them in just a minute. And then we have taken a second very important step now in the last couple of months and weeks, where we have decided that we will fundamentally change our remuneration scheme starting at the top from the Board level all the way to all employees across the world that are eligible for bonus, and that is true for all business lines. So in that respect, fundamental change, I will come to the details in a minute. Start into 2021, I know many of you are interested as much as we are. So January was good, if not very good for us. The winter came then in February. So let's wait and see how this plays out, but we remain confident for the first quarter of this year. All in all, I would say, given the excellent operation and especially also financial performance in 2020. We are earlier, from our perspective, able now to take the next phase of Beyond 2020. And that's especially the divestment and also the potential tuck-in M&As in our focus markets. So clearly, we will accelerate our move into that phase as we go into 2021. I would like to draw your attention to the next page. I know there was a lot of discussion in the past, are they delivering on their targets, guys? Look at Page 3, with all due respect, we have clearly delivered what we've promised on all dimensions. We gave you the targets during 2020 that we're going to be above the year of 2019. So EUR 3.58 billion EBITDA. We came in at more than EUR 3.7 billion, like-for-like, up 6.1%. On the net debt, Lorenz had guided you to go below EUR 7 billion, we came in at EUR 6.9 billion. On the back of that, the leverage, Lorenz guided you on leverage below 2.0x. We came in at a strong 1.86x, very well in the corridor of our Beyond 2020 exercise. And then last but not least program that we have actually launched under very different circumstances in March/April that I alluded to earlier nevertheless came out at cash savings of almost EUR 1.3 billion versus the announced target of EUR 1 billion. If you go to Page 4, you see the revenue side. There is clearly pressure on the volumes from Q2 that we did not fully recover. But from our perspective, if I look at the details, and I'll come to that a little bit later in some of the markets, Q3 was still a little bit low on the volumes. Q4 was actually quite strong on the volume side. So I am absolutely positive. The trend in Q4 in that respect was good, better than the average of the year, if you take Q1 out. So in that respect, I think we saw a good trend on the volume side. And just for you to note, this minus 5% like-for-like still even includes the deliberate reduction of revenues on the HC Trading side of more than EUR 500 million. And also some heavy currency impact that we basically have to also take into account. That altogether almost adds up to a sales of EUR 800 million to EUR 1 billion. So I think in that respect, if you take that into account, even the revenue line, I think, was quite okay. Strong then on the operating EBITDA, like-for-like plus 6%. Operating margin, you know that we discussed during the Beyond 2020 exercise that we wanted to move from 19%, 300 basis points up to 22%. And here we go already in less than 1 year, we are now at 21.1%. Okay, 1 year does not make a full summer, that's clear, but a strong 206 basis points up versus prior year, I think that clearly shows also the strong operational performance. And then on the operating EBIT side, it even looks a little better, like-for-like 11% up. Obviously, that has also helped a little bit by the write-offs that we took during the year in June 2020. If you go to Page 5, you see the margin improvement on the EBITDA side. And I would say everything looks good. We have improved the margin development in all areas, which is very important for me, shows also the strength of the balance of the portfolio, even prior to the divestments that we are planning. And I'm also being very -- we are ambitious. The North American 25 basis points you can argue, and I will come to that on the next page, whether this could have been even better? Absolutely. But with all the circumstances that we saw internally, we are happy with that plus 24 basis points. And the action plan that we have communicated going into Q3 is clearly on track in North America. And also the start for '21 was very promising there. So from my perspective, the trend is absolutely intact also in North America. If we go to the next Page 6, you see that the volume development in Q4 was actually good in cement, also in aggregates and only slightly hampered in ready-mix. So overall, volume development was okay from our perspective in Q4. If you look at the revenue side, even stronger, that indicates that also the pricing in those markets is still intact. I know many of you have asked, how is your sentiment on the pricing? If you look at the volume development in Q4 versus the revenue, it clearly indicates that the pricing momentum in the market is absolutely intact, in most cases, from our perspective. And that also then relates into a good operating EBITDA performance, especially in Africa, but also in Western, Southern Europe, Northern and Eastern Europe against a very strong comp prior year. And also Asia Pacific slightly up on a like-for-like basis. And then North America, strong development on the revenue side, which was important for me to watch, because you remember that our revenue development in the first half of the year, North America was lagging versus the competition. So I was very much keeping a close eye on the revenue development in Q3 and Q4. And the trend in that respect in North America is absolutely intact. On the operating EBITDA level, we had a couple of special developments that we don't need to go into any details. This is operational management of the company. But just to help you a little bit where it's coming from, you saw the good volume development and revenue development. Clearly, that eats into inventories, and that obviously also hits short-term our EBITDA. And then we took a very deliberate decision on maintenance in 2 dimensions, both, we postponed during 2020 some of the maintenance that was necessary for 2020 into Q4. You saw the COPE savings plan that was part of that exercise. And then we also pulled forward some of the maintenance that was necessary in the first half -- or in the first quarter of 2021, wherever possible, into Q4 2020. And all that together has a significant impact on the operating EBITDA in Q4 in North America. So as I said earlier, from our perspective, the trend is absolutely intact. We had a very strong Q3 in North America. And as I said, the first month in '21 was also strong. If you then go to Page 7, you see the development on the EBITDA side, the famous bridge. So we have a currency impact alone in Q4 of almost EUR 50 million, that's a big hit. But going from there, strong volume development. And also price over cost is still intact despite the slightly higher fixed cost development that I was alluding to earlier that's coming from mainly North America, partially Asia Pacific. Those are the ones where the fixed costs are a little bit higher than you may have expected. And again, that was deliberate management on our side. But despite of that spike in -- small spike in fixed costs from a global perspective, price over cost is even in Q4 still positive. If you sum it up into the full year performance, you see the 6.1% from just below EUR 3.5 billion to more than EUR 3.7 billion. Currency impact around EUR 90 million. Volume impact still negative. You saw the revenue development, minus EUR 200 million on the EBITDA side, but look at the very strong price over cost. So that's a combination of very good price management and excellent cost management during the pandemic year, so a favorable more than EUR 400 million, and that then adds up to this EUR 3.7 billion. Before I hand over to Lorenz, let me just share with you the COPE action plan. I will split this slide a little bit between the 2 of us. So we announced the EUR 1 billion originally in March. And you remember, that was really with the line of sight that the earth is going to sink and the moon is going to come down because the volume development in April and May was really a disaster. And under that scenario, we said, okay, guys, we better fasten our seatbelts and preserve cash wherever we can up to EUR 1 billion. Despite the fact that the volumes came back rapidly, we still pulled off a cash saving of almost EUR 1.3 billion, about EUR 250 million [fixed] (corrected by company after the call) cost, about EUR 500 million CapEx, and Lorenz can maybe say something on the EUR 560 million other cash savings because there, he has, as our CFO, the better visibility. But overall, I think a strong almost EUR 1.3 billion. Lorenz, do you want to take over on that one? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lorenz Näger, HeidelbergCement AG - CFO, Head of Finance, Accounting, Controlling, IT & Logistics and Deputy Chairman of Managing Board [4] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. Thanks, Dominik. Good afternoon from my side here, so I will take over here that point because the cash savings, which we did have a major impact on the net debt position. And so the other cash savings, all of that they do consist of tax savings and working capital reductions. On the cash tax savings, it's more like EUR 180 million in that figure, and these are mainly payments, which will come back next year. There's not so many final cash tax savings, but many countries put in place laws where you could postpone prepayments for the current year to the next year and that we use throughout the group. The second big item then is the working capital, and here predominantly, the accounts receivables and the accounts payable. We do not so much push on operational stocks, that means we do not try to push down clinker stocks, cement stocks and aggregate stocks because to do our business, and we do not want to run out of the stock. So we talk about accounts receivable. Here, we saw good performance all over the market. The payment behavior of our customer was very good. We have very little overdue payments in the COVID prices where we were concerned in the very beginning. And now we turned out that the payment discipline was pretty good. Vice versa on the other side, on our operating liabilities, our liabilities to our supplier, we were able to push out payment to a certain reasonable extent and by that, we achieved overall working capital savings of EUR 380 million. Also here, we will see some increase of working capital in the coming year, that's an exercise, which will not be repeatable. And this brings me then to the next slide on Slide 10, where you can see the net debt development and the associated leverage. You can see that we ended the year at EUR 6.9 billion net debt, which consists of EUR 5.8 billion clean financial debt, if I may say so, and EUR 1.1 billion IFRS 16 lease applications and this came down from EUR 8.4 billion previous year, EUR 1.5 billion. You can clearly see how the IFRS 16 liabilities reduced. That's because we have replaced our part of leased items, mainly trucks and yellow machines by purchased machines. So that brings it significantly down. You can also see over 2 years period of time -- that over 2 years, we have reduced net debt ex IFRS 16 from EUR 8.3 billion to EUR 5.8 billion. This is a reduction in the net debt position on a like-for-like basis of EUR 2.5 billion, which shows the outstanding ability of the company to generate cash and to have a high-power of self-financing. This then translates into the leverage. It goes down from 2.6x in 2017 and then 2.35x in 2019 and 1.86x now at the end of December 2020. This is well inside our target range of 1.5 to 2x. And if you exclude IFRS 16, it would have come down to 1.70x. So we see a strong deleveraging. We are well in our Beyond 2020 target range. And what I mean is remarkable that in the COPE action plan, we were able to redirect EUR 1.3 billion on very short time in cash to keep it inside the company, of course, that exercise cannot be repeated. The company, again, not only now in 2020 in the COVID crisis, but even earlier in 2009, in the financial crisis, of 2012 in the Fukushima crisis, showed this excellent -- and I would say, exceptional financial resilience in crisis situations with a good, very high agility, very high flexibility for asset-heavy business model and strong implementation strength on all levels of our organization. And that's, let's say, a characteristic, which we have educated into the company over many years and which will help us to master any challenge going forward. That's it from my side. And I would like to give back to Dominik. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [5] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes, Lorenz, thanks a lot. Very strong on the financial side, so thanks a lot to you and your team. Sustainability, you know that this is, for us, the core topic at this point beyond our operational excellence and the financial resilience of the company. We want to manage the future, and we are paid for managing the future. So for us, sustainability is absolutely core. You know that our clear target is to be the industry leader in this topic. And I think we have well advanced when it comes to industrial scaling of CO2 capturing technologies. We have announced the Norway Brevik project that captures 400,000 tonnes or 50% of the total emission of CO2 in the plant per year. And that is well on track to go live in 2024. We've also announced what we call the LEILAC 2 project that will be done in our Hanover cement plant in Germany. And that's targeted also to get to an industrial scale in the Phase 2 of this LEILAC. The first phase we did in Lixhe, Belgium. And this phase will then go to 100,000 tonnes of CO2 capture. And then we have a couple of other CO2 projects that are in the pipeline and have been communicated. The catch4climate in Germany that we do together with a couple of our industry partners. And also the feasibility study on a very important project of CCS in Canada. Now you can obviously make a big announcement on CO2 reduction targets on road maps, and new projects. But from our perspective, do we really mean business. And in that respect, we had an interesting discussion within the Management Board and also internally with our Supervisory Board. And we have the full backing to now make a significant change for our compensation, that is true for the Managing Board, and that's also true for all bonus eligible employees globally. As I said earlier, this cuts across all countries, all business lines. And in essence, we basically put a multiplier on our profit targets. So it clearly has the idea to say, going forward, we want to be in balance between financial targets and sustainability targets, and we take this very serious indeed. And that's why going forward, there will be -- as of 2021 when this starts -- it starts, right now for the full year 2021, you will not be able to earn full bonus without reaching your CO2 targets. And I think this is the clear message that we want to send internally and also externally to make sure that everybody understands that we, A, trust in our target set; and we do everything as a management team and as a total company to reach or even exceed those targets. And the basis for this is obviously our CO2 road map. We've communicated to you during the Beyond 2020 Capital Market Day. This is still absolutely the basis, and this is also the basis for this incentive scheme change. So there is no delta between internal or external targets. These are the targets that we chase together and that we have communicated. It's very transparent exercise. And we will keep you updated on whether we reached them or whether there are any deviations to the positive or to the negative side. Rest assured, we do everything to get there, and we'll give you an update on all of the Beyond 2020 targets in our March full year result disclosure that you know about. Okay. If I wrap it up, before we come to your interesting questions, key message, record year in a very difficult scenario. So I think the team has done an excellent job also to significantly improve the margins. COPE savings came in well above the original target of EUR 1 billion with more than EUR 1.2 billion, almost [EUR 1.3 billion] (corrected by company after the call). That allowed us for a step change in net debt reduction, bringing the leverage clearly below 2.0x, 1.86x as Lorenz was explaining. We made good progress on the industrial scaling of CO2 capture technologies, and we've also made a fundamental change in order to underline our ambition to our remuneration scheme. Overall, the start into 2021 was good, and we take a very optimistic view for Q1 of 2021. All of that allows us to then enter into the next phase of Beyond 2020, where we will then also start to see the first shift in our portfolio and work with our countries on their strategic plans going forward. Okay. That's it from Lorenz and myself at this point. And then we are looking forward to your questions. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [6] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thank you, Lorenz. Thank you, Dominik. Operator, do you want to start the Q&A, please? ================================================================================ Questions and Answers -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [1] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (Operator Instructions) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [2] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Okay. I see the line is filling up with a number of questioners. (Operator Instructions) And the first question comes from Gregor Kuglitsch from UBS. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Gregor Kuglitsch, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Executive Director, Head of European Building & Construction Research and Equity Research Analyst [3] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Can you hear me well? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lorenz Näger, HeidelbergCement AG - CFO, Head of Finance, Accounting, Controlling, IT & Logistics and Deputy Chairman of Managing Board [4] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes, Gregor. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Gregor Kuglitsch, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Executive Director, Head of European Building & Construction Research and Equity Research Analyst [5] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2 questions then for me, please. So the first one is, if you could just give us a little bit of color on your energy position for this year and your expectations for cost inflation? And maybe tied into that, what's your confidence is of recovering that cost inflation in 2021? And then the second question is on cash. So the slide on the COPE savings, so you've mentioned a few times of sort of things unwinding. I'm thinking about the tax savings, maybe there's going to be higher CapEx. I guess what I want to understand is how much of the EUR 1.3 billion will effectively -- appreciate it won't repeat again, but how much will be a headwind in 2021? And if you care to guide maybe specifically on CapEx within that as an absolute number, that would be helpful. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [6] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes, Gregor. Thanks a lot for your good questions. I will take just part of those 2 questions, and then I will hand over to Lorenz because cash, he will be very pronounced to answer on that. And also the energy cost, I think he has a good transparency, because he's leading our purchasing effort. That also includes the energy cost side. Let me make a couple of opening remarks on your second point with the COPE savings. You mentioned how much is going to come back. Let me comment on the fixed cost side and also the CapEx side, and then Lorenz will take the tax and the working capital topic together with the energy costs development. Gregor, bear with us, we're not going to give any specific outlook or guidance today, not because we don't want to do this, but we typically do this in March. If there is good visibility, we will do that in March. But bear with us that we don't give you a formal outlook, but we'll give you a current thought at least, I think that that's fair. On the COPE plan, fixed cost, we had EUR 250 million. And we always said we try to preserve as much as we can from those EUR 250 million. But one thing is also clear, some of the government programs that we have profited from last year will not come back, hopefully not come back because that would mean that COVID is over. So in that respect, we hope that they are not coming back, but this obviously will lead to a little bit less fixed cost relief. But we are trying, as a management team, to get as much over the line also in 2021. We have made during the crisis a couple of adjustments also on the staff side. That's also true for Heidelberg headquarter. That's true for some of the other countries, especially also across Europe. So we continue to work on that. And we will, with that, try to preserve as much of the fixed cost savings that we did last year. But it's, I think, fair to assume that not all of it will come back, but our clear target must be to get more than 50% of that at least, also across the line for this year. On the CapEx side, we've given you the guidance of EUR 1.2 billion. That is clearly still the target before any M&A. But the EUR 1.2 billion that we communicated within Beyond 2020 is clearly our aim also for that's net CapEx EUR 1.3 billion gross, minus EUR 100 billion, so EUR 1.2 billion net. That's the point on that end. And then, Lorenz, do you want to take the question with regards to the working capital and receivables and then also the energy cost side, maybe? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lorenz Näger, HeidelbergCement AG - CFO, Head of Finance, Accounting, Controlling, IT & Logistics and Deputy Chairman of Managing Board [7] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. Thank you. As I said earlier on the cash side, we will -- you will see definitely a swing back on the tax side, not all of the EUR 180 million, but part of that will be -- needed to be paid in 2021. So we will see compared to 2020 an increase in the tax payment. On the working capital side, as I said, it's mainly on accounts receivables and accounts payable, not so much on the stocks as the stocks are managed operationally, and we try to keep the stocks which are required in order to be always able to serve the customers. So there is not much change on the accounts receivable and payables. We are just analyzing the situation, what we can keep and what we have to, to increase our working capital. Our expectation is that the limited part of the EUR 380 million in the working capital will swing back maybe EUR 100 million or EUR 150 million. That's my expectation. When it comes to the energy position, you know that HeidelbergCement structurally has a shorter forward buying policy than most of the market. However, when we saw energy prices rising in autumn last year, we instructed our operations to buy longer, to go to the upper limits of the boundaries. We centrally said, and that has been done. So currently, we are covered maybe with 1/3 to 1/2 of our energy requirements for 2021. So that will bring us on a reasonable cost base through spring and then we have to see how things develop at a later stage. We see cost inflation on both, on power side, but also on fuel side, coal and pet coke. So that's the situation. So that's equally going up. And as I said, we are a bit longer -- we are longer than we used to be in the past, and that will help us until some more time. If you look at the pricing, we see strong pricing and reasonable development all across the board. So currently, we are quite optimistic that we will be able to keep the margin on the predominant part of our business overall in the group. So that's where we stand at the moment. And how that goes through springtime? Let's see. This February was very cold, now it's very warm. Volumes are picking up so much. So let's see how that will -- how weather will develop in March and then we will see where we stand. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [8] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thank you, Lorenz. The next question comes from Elodie Rall from JPMorgan. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Elodie Rall, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Research Analyst [9] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I have a few questions on capital allocation then. First of all, on disposals, could you actually give us a little bit of an update on your program? There have been few rumors in the press about potential asset disposals. If you could update us where you are at the moment? And specifically on the North American division and the action plan that you've put there as part of your strategic plan, Beyond 2020 strategy. Would you still consider -- or would you consider disposing this asset in this market? And then the flip side of that question would be, what you would do with the cash? Would you actually go for acquisitions, given also the much more comfortable leverage at the moment? And if so, in which area? Would it be just cement? Or would you consider some building and lighter solutions like some of your peers? And lastly, would you consider going back to a full dividend maybe as soon as this year? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [10] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Elodie, clever lady, you squeezed 3 questions in that. Almost 5, but that's okay. Yes, yes, yes, that's okay. No question. Let me answer your points, and Lorenz can chip in, if he has additional points. So on the capital allocation, especially the disposal program, you're right. We've indicated that we are working on at least 5 topics in that respect. Please, we ask for your understanding that we do not comment any market rumors at this point as we never do on that end. And that's why we cannot comment on anything that's out there that's running exercise for us, this disposal program, and we do not want to deteriorate that with any comments on this end. So bear with us, this will happen, as I indicated. Hopefully, some of them will also come to fruition in the first half of 2021, and then we'll push ahead with all others. But you know that these transactions always take a little bit of time, and we want to absolutely get the best result for our shareholders. You also asked a little bit about the North American action plan. Absolutely, as I said earlier Elodie, the action plan is in place. It is executed, and we have, I think, brought some light on where we are focusing on, that's both on the cement side and on the aggregate side as well as the ready-mix side for both U.S. and Canada. It's a very detailed plan that Chris Ward has worked on with his team all across our areas, in the regions, we call them in North America. Every region needs to contribute in each of their business lines with a very specific program. And as I said, this program from our perspective, is absolutely on track, and nothing will stop us from executing that. So there is a clear focus of the North American team to get that action plan executed. On the cash allocation, we stick to what we have communicated in Beyond 2020. First, the target is to generate as much cash as we can. That includes the operational cash and that Lorenz has shared with you. We then go for the divestment process that we have communicated also in the Beyond 2020 exercise. Then we spent our normal CapEx of EUR 1.2 billion. Then, next we go to the question on dividend. And I think it's clear that in a scenario, in a year like this, we will take a very close look at our dividend decision for the year 2020 to be paid out in '21. And then we have, as we always said, the competition between M&A on the one hand and share buybacks on the other hand. And you know we are an ambitious management team. As we said, we would like to grow the company in a very healthy financial position, and that still absolutely is our target. But we also clearly excluded multibillion, multinational acquisitions. So don't get overly excited that tomorrow we come up with a EUR 5 billion investment in 5 different regions of the globe. This is not going to happen. If we do M&A, we do this in a very pinpointed way in our targeted markets that we have actually decided under the Beyond 2020 exercise. And whether we stay within our core markets, although we move a little bit left or right, let's wait and see. This also depends a little bit on the opportunities. But rest assured, it will be clearly in line with what we have communicated. Beyond 2020, we gave you the -- our corridors. And in that respect, we will absolutely stick to what we have said. So no change in that respect. And as I said, Elodie, on the dividend, no final decision. You know this is a very formal process. The Board takes its decision once the final results are there. So we take that in middle of March. We then need to go through the Supervisory Board, discuss it with the Supervisory Board and then the Supervisory Board makes a proposal to the general assembly in May, and that's the process. But I think given the financial stability of the company, you should assume that the dividend should lie clearly above the EUR 0.60 of last year. Don't worry, we also have a good heart for our shareholders. Lorenz, do you have anything? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lorenz Näger, HeidelbergCement AG - CFO, Head of Finance, Accounting, Controlling, IT & Logistics and Deputy Chairman of Managing Board [11] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Elodie, I just want to add that we said that we will return to a progressive dividend when the COVID crisis is over. I think that tells you everything. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [12] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (Operator Instructions) The next question comes from Nabil Ahmed from Barclays. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Nabil Ahmed, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Head of European Construction, Building Materials and Infrastructure Equity Research [13] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I've 2 actually. The first one is relating to what you said earlier regarding the timing of maintenance, I'm assuming cost and CapEx. Could you please help us quantify that impact? I mean, how much incremental OpEx you had in the fourth quarter compared to normal? And as you probably understand, I'm trying to gauge the sort of margin improvement you would have had excluding that? The second question is on North America. I mean you alluded to it as well. This has been a very minor margin development in relative terms compared to the other region. Could you please help us to understand a little bit the moving parts? Maybe if you could make a few comments on the performances between the U.S. and Canada cement, aggregate and ready-mix and also perhaps per region, that will be useful. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [14] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. Nabil, thank you very much for your questions. And Lorenz can also chip in if he has a couple of points. On the maintenance cost and CapEx side, we are not in a quarter-to-quarter business. As many of you know this is -- we are in the midterm and long-term run to get to our target. That's also why we communicated a 5 year exercise and not a quarter-over-quarter plan. And absolutely, I made that very transparent from the outside in, you would say, what happened in North America? You were -- you went 400 basis points ahead in Q3 and then it's 25 basis points in Q4. So what's happening? I tell you very clearly what's happening, and that's an operational deliberate decision. For us, as I indicated earlier, Nabil, we were not happy with our overall performance in North America, and that also always starts with the top line. If you don't -- if you are losing too much ground on the top line, you can chase margins like hell, you will never succeed. So for us, the clear target was to get stability to the top line. And if I look at our performance in the top line in Q4, I'm actually fine with that. So the volume development was in key regions for us, especially good in the Northeast. It was good in Canada, which for us was a critical market where we were a little bit holding our breath. And it was also strong in other parts, but not as strong as in the Northeast and in Canada. Pricing also was intact, as I said earlier. For us, that's fine. Aggregate volume strong in most areas. So pricing also fine. On the aggregate side, it can always be better. I'm not -- I remain ambitious on this. But I think overall, the top line development, actually in North America was fine. And then as I indicated earlier, Nabil, for us, we had a very intense discussion in the Management Board in -- going into Q4. And as we said, we took the deliberate decision to then release some stop maintenance spend of -- in first 3 quarters, and that is especially true for North America because we were cautiously optimistic already at that point for 2021. And as Lorenz said earlier, our management task is to look a little bit ahead. And we wanted to be ready when the market is good, and that's why we don't want to run down our assets. Even if we hold our breath on the CapEx side, we took a deliberate decision to push on maintenance in Q4 in order to be ready with our assets for 2021. Because as many of you know, you can have a great operational performance. But if you run your assets to the ground and especially your bottleneck assets will not perform, then you are lost in our industry, and that's why we took a very deliberate decision to play on this. And the second point is then on the back of the good development on volumes, we have an inventory impact in North America. This is significant, as I said, but please also -- for the understanding that we do not now disclose ups and downs, that is normally operationally up and down quarter-over-quarter. So in North America, in general, as I said, January 1, started strong, then we had bad weather now in Texas. But overall, our sentiment for the U.S. is intact. Housing is strong. Infrastructure, we are still very confident it will come. Okay. Maybe Biden has a preference to first solve the COVID problem and then get to infrastructure. But structurally, I think it will come. And then we watch very closely the development on the commercial side. So overall, I think our sentiment for Q1 in the U.S. is -- before the weather impact now, I think, is good. And then you keep in mind, March has a lot of working days because Easter goes into April this year. So we are going against a very strong comp in general in Q1 because you remember before COVID, Q1 last year was a record Q1. So let's wait and see, but we are, from our perspective, there on a good track. Lorenz, do you have anything to add? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [15] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The next one comes from Harry Goad from Berenberg. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Harry Goad, Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co. KG, Research Division - Analyst [16] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I've got a couple, please, both related to the sort of CO2 topic. Can you talk a little bit about as we go into the phase 4 of the ETS scheme, how things change with regard to the allowances you receive? And any comment on the sort of the extent of the carbon stock and where that keeps the surplus through in the years ahead? And then secondly, on CapEx related to this topic. You've obviously talked with certain announcements in recent months about carbon capture investments. So when I think about the potential CapEx build for that in the years ahead, can we think about that being reflected in that EUR 1.3 billion net number? Or would that be incremental to that? I appreciate that, not for the next couple of years, but beyond that. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [17] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes, Harry, you also need to give -- put some questions that our CFO can answer. I think that... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lorenz Näger, HeidelbergCement AG - CFO, Head of Finance, Accounting, Controlling, IT & Logistics and Deputy Chairman of Managing Board [18] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- No. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [19] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- But -- okay, come on, let me start and then if Lorenz chips in. Phase 4 ETS scheme, you know that there is Phase 4A that is basically set in stone, and then there is a phase 4B that is currently under discussions also in the green deal in Brussels. We are very close to that discussion. And I think we've proven in the past that we can also help to manage the political process. You could always be up for surprises. But in that respect, we follow the process very closely. And for us, there are things we can manage, and then there are other things we cannot manage. We can help to educate the politicians in Brussels. But we, as a company, are prepared for A, B, C, D. That's what we are paid for. And that's why we are clearly pushing as to reduce our CO2 emissions because then it doesn't really matter what the EU decides. For us, it is key. You know we are long in Europe. And as a group, I think that's clearly the case, and we do not have yet the final numbers for 2020, that we will give you in the middle of March. But I think we are well on track to be long, as we indicated earlier, until 2023 at the latest. And then let's wait and see how that develops with the final numbers of 2020, we will then disclose in March. On the CapEx, I know that many of you and also our investor base is very concerned that this will cause trillions in order to solve the problem. I indicated earlier that we have worked hard on our carbon capture project. And the CapEx we are consuming there is clearly manageable. That for us is not going to go -- we need not to stretch our imagination on that. And as we said earlier in our Capital Markets Day, absolutely, in the EUR 1.2 billion, you have this CapEx included. So we have until 2025 and 2030, not assume that this will be an additional major CapEx. The specific CO2 CapEx, we estimate it to be EUR 500 billion -- EUR 500 million, sorry, EUR 500 million, 5-0-0, over the next 10 years in order to get to what we have in our CO2 road map. Now I would add one very important point. Our American friends and politicians in America are very pragmatic. And also the investor base seems to be very pragmatic. Once the President changes, and he has a different agenda, also the money flows change. So you probably saw the announcement, whether you like him or not on Bill Gates now pumping EUR 2 billion of private money into the carbon capture space. You saw also other investors putting a lot of money into this space. And personally, I see this as very encouraging strong news for us because what will happen, it will accelerate the race to carbon capture technology. And secondly, it will clearly drive down the cost, both in CapEx and OpEx dimensions. So in that respect, guys, I think this is very good news. I don't think the investor base has clearly that on its radar screen yet. But personally, I'm pretty convinced that the next years that under Biden's management, and looking at his agenda, will also increase significantly the money inflow into this topic. So Harry, that's it from my side. Lorenz, do you have anything to add? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lorenz Näger, HeidelbergCement AG - CFO, Head of Finance, Accounting, Controlling, IT & Logistics and Deputy Chairman of Managing Board [20] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- No, I don't think. I think what's important in the European perspective is that there's an equal playing field for everybody. How does then finally manage, whether this allocation scheme or Border adjustment mechanism or whatever is a different question. And I mean, politicians have clearly understood that it wouldn't help to just bring big cost to CO2 in Europe and then import the goods save the costs and then destroy the internal industry in Europe and then import the same product at higher CO2 emissions from abroad. That's the clear case that this will not happen. That is understood in Brussels and in Berlin and everywhere in Paris. So that's a very clear case. Now how, in the end, the solution looks like? We do not know right now. And I would say if even level playing field is maintained, that's what our expectation is right today, then it's fairly independent. It may make little changes, but it's fairly independent on how the solution looks like. Then the competition is the same for everybody producing our products here in Europe. And then we believe that we are very, very well positioned to lead the pack in that direction because here, we are very far advanced in reducing CO2 emissions of our products. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [21] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Next one comes from Paul Roger from Exane BNP Paribas. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Paul Barry Roger, Exane BNP Paribas, Research Division - Sector Head of the Building Materials Team & Analyst of Building Materials [22] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Congratulations on the results. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [23] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thank you. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Paul Barry Roger, Exane BNP Paribas, Research Division - Sector Head of the Building Materials Team & Analyst of Building Materials [24] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- That's good to see also the change in incentive schemes, that obviously sends a nice powerful message as well. So I'll keep brief up here, and I'll just keep it one question, actually. Can you comment about on the magnitude of price increases you've announced in Europe and North America for this year? And maybe actually, just a follow-up. In Europe, particularly, you've just mentioned, obviously, you are long CO2, others are short. Will that have any impact on your pricing strategy at all? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [25] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- You know the industry very well, Paul, and I like the last part of your question because that's obviously the multibillion-dollar question. What are you doing with your pricing strategy? Now if I look at my pricing chart for the operating plan 2020, it's all green. There is -- it really -- we are trying to push the prices from our perspective. And that is our company decision. I cannot talk for the industry. For us, our operating plan clearly has a clear target to advance the prices. On the back -- Lorenz was mentioning that earlier, on the back of rising energy costs, it's clear that we need to make up for those costs. And also the structural investments we have to do, as we discussed earlier in our CO2 topic, we need to advance our pricing, and we do this across the globe. This is not a specific German or U.K. or American question, it is really across the world, and you see price increases between 1% and 5% whatever market you look at. So we are really pushing. In some markets, we even go up to 10%. So I think this is -- we are clearly working on the pricing. Now your CO2, I commented, I think, on that. But your second point is, I sense a little bit reading between lines whether we are now deliberately lowering the price in order to create a mess in the market from our perspective. Absolutely, that's not the case. Obviously, we have a broad product range. So if I say there is a price increase of X, Y, Z., this does not mean that this is a flat out price increase for all products. We do a very differentiated pricing market by market. And indeed, we are working on our strategic plan on exactly that. And that has obviously very different dimensions, but it will absolutely take into account going forward also the CO2 footprint that the product carries. This is an additional variable that plays into the pricing for each of the specific products, in each of the specific markets, in each of the different business lines. So in that respect, a very differentiated view. So there is not a flat out 2%, 3%, 4%, 5%, but very differentiated pricing in different markets. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [26] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Paul, you kept me happy, 1.5 questions, very good. The next question comes from Tobias Woerner, Stifel Europe. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Tobias Alfred Woerner, Stifel Europe, Research Division - Research Analyst [27] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Well done on the results and also on your remuneration policy around CO2. Two questions, if I may, and thank you for giving me the chance. Number one, Asia Pacific and Africa did pretty well despite higher coal costs. Maybe it's still benefiting from your forward policy, forward buying policy. So should we assume that the impact is going to come later? Or are the prices in the pipeline more than enough to offset potential pressures there? And secondly, maybe one for Dr. Näger, a little bit more granularity. If volumes normalize, how does that play out in terms of the coke costs being offset? I suspect you would have done some kind of sensitivity and analysis for yourselves? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [28] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Okay. Tobias, thanks a lot for your questions. I'll take the first one and then Lorenz Näger takes the second one. You're right, Africa was very strong, especially in Q4, but I would say it's fair to say, overall, during the year 2020. And to dive into your point, yes, absolutely, there are higher energy costs also in Africa. But we have developed very strong market positions in some of our key African markets, whether you look at Morocco, whether you look at Israel, whether you look at Tanzania, whether you look at Togo, whether you look at Ghana, whether you look even at Congo. So in that respect, I think we have very strong market positions. And I indicated I think in the past, we are modest guys, but we also have to face reality. And I think we have a very entrepreneurial, very strong management team. And in markets like Africa, this makes all the difference in the world, and they will be able to manage flexibility on cost development that's inherent in these markets. Emerging markets have a higher volatility. And if you have the right management team in place in order to manage that volatility, I stay very confident on our African performance that will be different market by market. But to your point, if there is increases in energy costs, they will also work on the pricing in order to safeguard their margins. So we stay confident for Africa on the back of what I've said. Lorenz, do you want to take the other question? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lorenz Näger, HeidelbergCement AG - CFO, Head of Finance, Accounting, Controlling, IT & Logistics and Deputy Chairman of Managing Board [29] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. I mean that's true not only for Africa, that's true also for the rest of the company. If you take today prices and apply it for all of the outstanding industry requirements, and you do not change anything else, just except the higher prices, then we would talk about high double-digit million additional cost on that. But of course, there is plenty of opportunity to mitigate that by changing the fuel mix, by going sources by increasing or changing alternative fuels, et cetera, et cetera. So the current pure price tag on that does not give you a true and fair picture. And as I was demonstrating earlier, the company has the ability to react and agile -- and flexible on any challenge, and that can mean to change the fuel mix, to change the power mix, to adjust the production to the power price and all of that, but also to adjust the front end price. So I'm very confident that, that will not come through as difficult it looks right now. So we are quite optimistic that we can mitigate that impact to a significant extent. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [30] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thank you. So we have 5 more gentlemen in the line. The next one come -- the next question comes from Matthias Pfeifenberger from Deutsche Bank. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Matthias Pfeifenberger, Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Research Analyst [31] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Can you hear me well? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [32] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. We can. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Matthias Pfeifenberger, Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Research Analyst [33] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So congrats on the results. 2 questions from my side. Firstly, on LEILAC, why has this been relocated? And then also related to that, do you -- can you confirm that you're basically the global leader, the most advanced player in CCU? Because, obviously, in Europe, you are very far ahead with the industrial scale projects. And globally, I think there's not so much focus on that. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [34] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Okay, Pfeifenberger. LEILAC 2, as you know, as the name indicates is the second phase of LEILAC project. This is a project we also do together with industry partners and a little bit in a platform approach. It's also funded by the EU and other partners. We have done this project in our -- as I said, LEILAC 1 was in our Lixhe plant in Belgium. And the pure reason for this change is that we now scale it up. And the technical requirements to scale it up are more favorable in our Hanover plant in Germany, and that's the pure reason. So there is a technical and cost balance that we strike in order to -- where does this make the most sense under the learnings from LEILAC 1. And then we said, together with our partners, the German plant in Hanover is the best setup. We are fighting. We stay flexible. We don't stay stubborn. It is not a guarantee if you have earned phase 1, that you are also set for phase 2 and 3. So we had to review the situation and then decide it in a balance between costs, CapEx and technical requirements where to go, and that's why we jointly decided to move to Hanover. On the global leadership, on this carbon capture technology, we are drawing this conclusion from the fact that in terms of scaling and in terms of coming onstream, we believe that we still have a clear -- much ahead of everybody else in that respect. Because, as I said, Brevik comes onstream in '24, LEILAC 2 in '25. And in both cases, you do not just talk about a couple of tonnes, you talk about 400,000 -- or 100,000 tonnes. This is a significant size. I would argue, if I look at the car traffic in Heidelberg, the 400,000 tonnes, you can stop the full car traffic in Heidelberg for a couple of years in order to get to that amount, just to give you an idea. So this is not Mickey Mouse. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Matthias Pfeifenberger, Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Research Analyst [35] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. Okay. And the second one is basically on Chart #8. I mean, I appreciate all the comments you've made on volumes and pricing. When I look at this bridge, it's basically going to be much, much better situation on the volumes. And then maybe as far as I understood your comments, and Dr. Näger's comment, it's probably the price over cost you fight hard to get this to a positive, but it's more or less the goal to be neutral. And then all the margin-enhancing elements is basically from the residual self-help from the action program in the U.S. but also from the disposals. Is that a fair view of things at this stage, excluding the currency impact, of course? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [36] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. I would be a little bit more optimistic. For me, price over cost to be neutral, this -- we try to push. Ideally, we want to come in positive territory. I mean, there is clear headwind from the energy cost side, as Lorenz was describing. But as we said, we are fighting hard to stay in positive territory in price over cost. That's our management DNA, and that's what we are fighting for. Is there a guarantee for that? No. But our clear target is that we get into a positive territory. So with all what you have said, I think fine. But this one, I would be more optimistic from our own perspective. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [37] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Next in line is Stephan Bonhage from Metzler Capital Markets. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Stephan Bonhage, Metzler Equities, Research Division - Research Analyst [38] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Can you hear me? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [39] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Stephan Bonhage, Metzler Equities, Research Division - Research Analyst [40] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Great, great. First, congratulations for the results. And I will also keep it short with just 1 question. I think you mentioned in your press release that you expect that the demand should develop well in many markets this year. But I think this also implies that you are maybe not optimistic on certain markets, too. So can you more specify your outlook on your regional markets? So where do you expect a strong development and on which markets you are more muted with regarding the outlook? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [41] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. As we said, Bonhage, we're not going to give a formal outlook at this point. I think that's clear. But we just came off a call with our GMs, and I would -- we tell you very clearly in our key markets, we are optimistic. And that for me, it's almost -- whether we move the needle in markets like Mozambique, I'm not so sure. So for me, that's not so key. But in our core markets, U.S., U.K., Australia, Morocco, just to name a few, we are optimistic and that for us is key because that will then also move the needle. In a big portfolio, as you well know, there is always ups and downs, but that's the beauty of this portfolio. And that's why the focus clearly is on our core markets. And this is helped by good residential development and also good infrastructure programs. There are clear infrastructure programs in place in the U.K., in Australia, U.S., we talked about, in Italy. So I think there are -- for some of our core markets, there is clearly a tailwind in that respect, and we try to capture that. That's the essence of that. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [42] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The third last question comes from Yassine Touahri from On Field Research. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yassine Touahri, On Field Investment Research LLP - Founding Partner [43] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. 2 questions. My first question would be, could you -- yes. Can you hear me? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [44] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- No. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yassine Touahri, On Field Investment Research LLP - Founding Partner [45] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Not really. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [46] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Now it's better. Hello? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yassine Touahri, On Field Investment Research LLP - Founding Partner [47] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Is it better now? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [48] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yassine Touahri, On Field Investment Research LLP - Founding Partner [49] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hello, can you hear me? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [50] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. Go ahead. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yassine Touahri, On Field Investment Research LLP - Founding Partner [51] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So my first question would be, could you quantify the energy deflation per tonne of cement that you experienced in -- in 2020? And what kind of energy inflation you could experience in 2021, if power and fuel price remain at their current rate? Then my second question would be -- question, if you could look at adjacent businesses.... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [52] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sorry, Yassine. It's very... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lorenz Näger, HeidelbergCement AG - CFO, Head of Finance, Accounting, Controlling, IT & Logistics and Deputy Chairman of Managing Board [53] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes, that's okay. We understood the question on the energy. And it was probably the same question we had earlier. So as I said, the current price inflation as it is right now, could lead -- if we do not act, if management goes home, could lead to a double-digit million price increase, but management does not go home. So we work on the fuel mix, yes, we work on the -- on finding better deals on the fuel side, on pet coke side. We try to increase alternative fuels to substitute, et cetera, so that we are very confident that we can mitigate a big part of the outstanding cost inflation. As I said earlier, the biggest -- a big part of the energy forward buying, we have already locked in to a larger extent than we locked it in, in the previous years, and that will bring us at a favorable cost price to the summertime, and then we will take it from there. We will take the necessary actions and decisions. And as I said, we will be confident to be able to manage debt cost down to a lower level than it looks on the paper right now. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [54] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Okay. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yassine Touahri, On Field Investment Research LLP - Founding Partner [55] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- And then the energy deflation that you had in 2020? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [56] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 10%, EUR 200 million, roughly? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lorenz Näger, HeidelbergCement AG - CFO, Head of Finance, Accounting, Controlling, IT & Logistics and Deputy Chairman of Managing Board [57] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 10%. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [58] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [59] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The next question comes from Arnaud Lehmann from Bank of America. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Arnaud Lehmann, BofA Securities, Research Division - Head of the European Construction & Building Materials and Director [60] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I have 2 questions, hopefully, short. Firstly, what about European capacity closures in 2021, now that you need to accelerate reduction in CO2 emissions, maybe improve utilization rates to maximize pricing? Could you close capacity, for example, in Italy? That's my first question. And secondly, just coming back on your very interesting new remuneration policy. I think that's quite innovative in the industry. But as a -- could you give an example? Because as a country manager or plant manager, I need to balance my financials with my CO2 emission, and I'm assuming there is a cost associated with either OpEx or CapEx to reduce CO2 emissions. So how are the plot managers and country managers going to have to balance their financial performance with the reduction in CO2 emissions, please? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [61] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. Arnaud, great question, especially the second one. Let me dive into both questions and the majority of the second question, I will pass over to Lorenz. He has worked closely with me on this new incentive scheme, and so he'll give you a little bit of flavor on that. On the European capacity closures, you know that we are already ahead of others, restructured our footprint in Italy. Over the past years on the back of the Italcementi acquisition, we have done a couple of follow-on deals to get in balance there from our perspective in Italy. So there are no significant capacity closures planned for Italy. The different picture you have in France. You know that we -- I have embarked on a significant master plan for France, that includes the big investment in our key plant in Western France. And on the back of that, obviously, there will also be adjustments of capacity in France. The master plant in Germany, as the majority is done here and there, there could be additional points. But right now, the markets are also stronger. Let's keep that also in mind. So as we go along and the volume development is good, we should also make sure that we do not close capacities where we need them. But as we said, we are working on our clinker incorporation to drive that down and then obviously also free up some capacity. So in that respect, we go market by market, but there are not major plant closures on the horizon in 2021. On the remuneration scheme, as I said earlier, the key point is that we want to avoid that we are purely financially focused company under the current circumstances. But Arnaud, you've been longer enough around the block. We also are not a charity company. And so in that respect, it is absolutely clear that we still want to earn money. You have a very big and fair point that on the -- in our -- on all the management levels, we are going away from a purely financially focused decision to a more balanced decision between finance and CO2, so impact on the environment. And obviously, if you take specific examples for the GMs they are facing, and we are already facing those discussions. How do I balance between a financial target and a CO2 target? But Arnaud, before Lorenz gives you details, very clearly, that's what we want to get to. We need entrepreneurs in our country management, and they are paid for making exactly that decision. We are helping them with all know-how and finger tips we can, but that's exactly what we want to get to. And that's why we have pushed ahead with this. And this is why we want to lead the industry on this one because we strongly believe this drives the right decisions from our investors' perspective and from a society perspective. But maybe, Lorenz, you can bring some more flavor to the incentive. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lorenz Näger, HeidelbergCement AG - CFO, Head of Finance, Accounting, Controlling, IT & Logistics and Deputy Chairman of Managing Board [62] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. The incentive scheme is a bit tricky. So it's based on the road map, which we have for our CO2 targets, where we fix the target, how to reach our 525 kilograms per tonne of cementitious material in 2025. So the headline is 525 in 2025. So -- and this target has been broken down for each plant and every single year. So each plant in each country has a CO2 target for each year until 2025. Now if I look to '21, of course, they have a target for 2021. So each plant and, therefore, each country has a target, a CO2 emission target for 2021. Now the country manager has also a financial target, maybe EBIT, maybe cash flow, maybe net profit, depending on what the situation is. Now if at the end of the year he achieves or she achieves, let's say, 120% -- 100% target achievement on his financial target, then this will be multiplied with the achievement of the CO2 target. So if you reach the CO2 target, he gets a factor of 1.0. But if he does not reach the target, he can go down to 70%; or if you overachieve the target, if he emits less CO2 in his area for his responsibility, that as much -- can be as much as 130%. So if you -- to stay in the example, if he reaches 120% on the financial target and reaches his CO2 target, then he gets the full bonus. But if he does not meet the CO2 target, that can lead to a devaluation of the financial target down to 70% of the initial achievement. So that would be only 84%. But if he emits less CO2 in that respect there, then he gets a bonus on top of that, and the 120% can become as much as 156%, which is 1.3x this target. So that's the overall mechanism. And that all is done in the bracket of the budget. So the CapEx needs for that is, of course, agreed in the budget discussions and so on. And so that's how that works. And that's for each and every bonus receiving manager in this company. I think that's really a step change. That's really a step change. And yes, that's what we try now. It's the first year. We have to gain experience, and we will see where it ends. But I'm 100% sure this will boost both financial performance and CO2 reduction, and we do everything to reach our road map target, 525 in 2025. That's what we do. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [63] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. Thanks, Lorenz. And I think, Arnaud, that was an important point. And obviously, that will then also lead to day-to-day decisions. I think that you were alluding to, if you now buy fuel for your plant, what are you going to buy? Or are you going to buy biomass alternative use or are you going to buy coal, that then you have to face exactly that balanced decision, and that is exactly what we want to promote. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [64] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Arnaud, I think you want the price for stipulating the longest answer. It goes to show how important that issue is for us. So we finish off by Christian Korth, who has the honor to close the Q&A session. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christian Korth, HSBC, Research Division - Analyst [65] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So congratulations on the results. It's certainly good that all your hard work payed off. I just have one question on the depreciation and amortization in the fourth quarter. So compared to the previous quarters, this looks to be a little lower. Can you explain to me where this comes from? Is it related to postponed investments? Or is it maybe related to amortization charges? Or are there maybe any positive one-offs in there? I'm just trying to figure out why it is relatively lower compared to recent quarters? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lorenz Näger, HeidelbergCement AG - CFO, Head of Finance, Accounting, Controlling, IT & Logistics and Deputy Chairman of Managing Board [66] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. So the answer is it's a bit all of them. We have lower CapEx, which is below our average depreciation. So that brings it down over time. The second major effect is that a number of the Italcementi acquisitions, where we have had 5 years amortization on PPA, they are starting to run out. And that brings the depreciation down. That's a trend, which we will also see over the coming quarters that will continue to go down a little bit. And another one is the amortization on IFRS 16 assets. I have earlier outlined that IFRS 16 went down from EUR 1.3 billion to EUR 1.1 billion. This space has also depreciation base and goes down as well. These effects, they all combined, with this reduced CO2, yes... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [67] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thank you. So this concludes our trading statement update call for today. Thank you very much for dialing in. I just want to allude you to the next date, which is, of course, the 18th of March when we release our official results for the full year. And then we go on the road virtually for the next 2 or 3 days and also including the Exane BNP Sector Conference. So stay tuned until the end of March. Until then... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [68] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanks a lot, guys. Thank you. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lorenz Näger, HeidelbergCement AG - CFO, Head of Finance, Accounting, Controlling, IT & Logistics and Deputy Chairman of Managing Board [69] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thank you very much. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dominik von Achten, HeidelbergCement AG - Chairman of Managing Board [70] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bye-bye. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christoph Beumelburg, HeidelbergCement AG - Head of Group Communication & IR [71] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bye. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [72] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ladies and gentlemen, the conference has now concluded, and you may disconnect your telephone. Thank you for joining, and have a pleasant day. Goodbye.