UPDATE 2-HeidelbergCement more cautious on 2010 outlook

* Sees slow and U-shaped recovery in 2010

* Q4 core profit fell 37 pct to 496 mln eur

* Shares up 0.17 pct

By Ludwig Burger

(Releads, adds analyst comment, shares, background)

FRANKFURT, Feb 10 (BestGrowthStock) – Cement maker HeidelbergCement
(HEIG.DE: ) voiced caution about its 2010 prospects as a cold
spell put a freeze on its fourth quarter earnings and an already
shaky recovery for the construction industry.
The world’s fourth-largest cement maker said it expected “a
slow and U-shaped recovery” in 2010, with stimulus programmes in
the United States providing some support.

Fourth-quarter operating income before depreciation fell 37
percent to 496 million euros, below the 542.5 million average
estimate, based on Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Visibility about the prospects for the company should
improve by the middle of the year, the company said.

The group, which used to be controlled by Germany’s
industrial heir Ludwig Merckle, previously said it expected a
return to growth in 2010 and 2011.

“Growth is still bumpy, 2010 should be more or less flat,”
Marc Gabriel, an analyst with Bankhaus Lampe said. “The cold
weather will certainly leave its mark on the first quarter.”

The shares rose 0.17 percent at 42.67 euros while the
European DJ Stoxx Construction and Materials Index’s (.SXOP: ) was
up 1.39 percent at 1017 GMT.

The German company also reported a 404 million euro ($554
million) goodwill impairment amid weak residential construction
markets in the U.S. and Spain.

And quarterly sales slid 19 percent to 2.73 billion euros,
slightly below the 2.83 billion expected by analysts.

HeidelbergCement, laden with debt from the $16 billion
takeover of British rival Hanson in 2007, in October issued 2.5
billion euros in bonds, tapping the resurging junk-bond market
to wiggle further out of the stranglehold of creditor banks.

In November it said it cut its total net debt to 8.6 billion
euros from 11.3 billion at the end of June, helped by a 2.3
billion euro capital increase in September that put it on track
to join Germany’s benchmark DAX (.GDAXI: ) index.

It said on Wednesday it successfully issued Eurobonds worth
1.4 billion euros in January to further reduced bank debt.

Last month Mexico’s Cemex (CMXCPO.MX: )(CX.N: ) said it expected
a tepid recovery in its global sales in 2010 and its shares
plunged after it reported a fourth-quarter loss, hitting the
stocks of European rivals. [ID:nN27179904]

Stock Research

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Sharon Lindores)
($1=.7294 Euro)

UPDATE 2-HeidelbergCement more cautious on 2010 outlook