Bernard Fontana - CEO: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the presentation of Annual Results 2012. After my remarks, highlighting the most important development throughout the Group, Thomas Aebischer, our CFO will explain the Group financial results and before the discussion, I will comment on the outlook.
First, Holcim at a glance, in 2012 the better demand for building materials in the fast-growing markets of Asia and Latin America as well as North America was in contrast to low demand in debt and rescission hit Europe. With 148 million tonne, Holcim delivered more cement. However, the shipments of aggregate and ready-mix concrete declined due to a lower demand in several mature markets, primarily in Europe and in the Pacific Rim.
Despite the limited volume growth and important restructuring costs Holcim succeeded in increasing net sales, operating EBITDA and net income. Excluding the restructuring cost of CHF736 million. Operating profit also increased significantly. Thanks to the combined effects of an organic growth and the Holcim Leadership Journey. The Group achieved like-for-like growth of both the operating EBITDA and operating profit of 6.4% and 11.4% respectively on an adjusted basis.
These results are driven by a high degree of cost awareness and by the successes achieved in passing on various higher costs to prices. The various streams of the Holcim Leadership Journey, which gained momentum from mid-year on contributed CHF158 million on a net basis to the improvements at consolidated operating profit level.
The restructuring costs also impacted net income. Nevertheless, it substantially increased by more than 50% compared to the previous year. This rise was supported by the sale of stakes in Guatemala and Thailand. More details on our financial performance will follow on from Thomas Aebischer.
As the payout potential before write-offs remains intact. The Board of Directors proposes an increased cash payout per registered share of CHF1.15 from capital contribution reserves compared to CHF1 in 2012.
And now to the Holcim Leadership Journey, which was launched in May last year and which will generate an additional CHF1.5 billion in operating profit by year end 2014, a safe and healthy working environment is part of this initiative.
Our goal for 2012 was to reduce the lost-time injury frequency rate, a goal that was reached as went from 1.5 to 1.2. Despite many improvements, we still faced severe accidents. Therefore, our efforts are ongoing and we aspire to be among the best companies worldwide with regard to the lost-time injury frequency rates.
The core elements of the Holcim Leadership Journey are the customer excellence and the cost leadership. They quickly gained momentum following the Group-wide announcements. So today I can already report on the first successes.
As you know, we set the goal for 2012 to increase the operating profit by at least CHF150 million and with a result of CHF158 million on the net basis we’ve reached that goal, a fact which considering the challenging market environment holds premise for the future.