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Press Release 21 April 2005

Results for the year 20 04 • Sales of € 1,680 million, a like-for-like increase on 2003 of 6.9%. • Operating income of € 199 million (11.8% of sales), a like-for-like increase of 11.8%. • Strong residential housing market and level of demand for building materials in North America, which offset impact of raw material price increases. • Trading in Europe more mixed, with German and UK markets difficult, and strong Euro holding back export growth. • Further reduction in net financial debt to € 659 million due to strong operating cash flow and with no significant proceeds from business disposals. • Group share of net current profit € 100 million, equivalent to € 1.10 per share (2003: € 0.89 per share), an increase of 24%. • Group share of net current cash flow € 167 million, equivalent to € 1.84 per share (2003: € 1.63 per share), an increase of 13%. • Proposed dividend of € 0.1467 gross per share (€ 0.11 net), an increase of 10% at the net level. The Board of Directors, at its meeting held on 12 April 2005, approved the consolidated accounts for the year 2004, which will be presented to the General Meeting of Shareholders on 25 May 2005.

Comments Profit and Loss Account Turnover in 2004 was € 1,680 million compared with € 1,612 million in 2003, an overall increase of 4.2%. At constant exchange rates and excluding the impact of changes in the scope of the consolidation, the increase in sales was 6.9%. Changes in the scope of consolidation reduced turnover by 1.3% due to the absence of any sales contribution from businesses sold in 2003, offset by the consolidation from 1 January 2004 of German subsidiary Wefa Plastics. Adverse exchange rate movements further reduced turnover by 1.4% in total, with the Canadian dollar weaker by 2.2% and the US dollar weaker by 10%, compensated by sterling strengthening by 1.9%, the New Zealand dollar by 3.6% and the Australian dollar by 2.8%. Operating profit for the year was € 199 million (2003: € 179 million), representing 11.8% of sales (2003: 11.1%) after charging € 5.7 million (2003: € 4.8 million) of reorganisation costs. The overall increase in operating profit was 11.3%, but at constant exchange rates and excluding the impact of changes in the scope of the consolidation, the increase was 11.8%. Operating profit was reduced by changes in the scope of consolidation (0.2%), and by adverse exchange rate movements (0.3%). Operating cash flow reached € 267 million (2003: € 247 million), representing 15.9% (2003: 15.3%) of sales. Growth in North America, especially in the USA, was strong with construction markets better than most forecasts had anticipated. The residential housing sector was the main driver of this growth

with historically high levels of housing starts and building permits and a buoyant market in existing homes. The strength of demand for building materials and consequent upward pressure on selling prices helped to lessen the adverse impact of raw material price increases. Trading in Europe was more mixed, with economic conditions in Germany again proving difficult, leading to a further fall in the level of building permits and consumer confidence, which adversely affected the Group’s major markets. Construction spending in Germany as a proportion of GDP has now fallen by some 50% in the last decade. The UK market was also difficult during 2004 with increasing customer consolidation, combined with raw material price increases, putting pressure on margins. Aliaxis’ other major European markets, France, Spain and Italy progressed despite low growth and increased competition in some sectors. Export growth from the eurozone was more difficult to achieve as a result of the strength of the Euro throughout the year. Economic conditions in Australasia and South Africa remained favourable, enabling the Group’s businesses there to achieve good levels of growth.

Working capital increased from € 313 million at the beginning of the year to € 325 million at 31 December 2004, an increase of 3.8%. At that level, the working capital requirement represented 19.3% of sales (2003: 19.4%), which was the lowest point of the year, and reflected the seasonal nature of the Group’s activities. The capital and reserves of the Group increased from € 536 million to € 574 million as a result of the Group’s share of net profit for the year (€ 61 million), less the proposed dividend (€ 13 million) and the adverse impact of exchange rate movements (€ 10 million). Minority interests remained unchanged at € 10 million, as a result of net profits for the year of € 2 million, less dividends paid in 2004 and the negative impact of exchange rate movements. Net financial debt reduced by € 61 million (8.5%) in 2004, from € 720 million to € 659 million, thanks mainly to cash flow generated by the business operations during the year. The combined proceeds of business and fixed asset disposals realised in 2004 was € 4 million (2003: € 54 million).

The financial result for the year was a net charge of € 44 million (2003: € 59 million), consisting of net interest charges of € 48 million (2003: € 53 million) and other financial income, mainly rerealised and unrealised exchange gains and losses arising on assets and liabilities held in local currencies, of € 4 million (2003: charge of € 6 million). Goodwill amortisation was € 36 million (2003: € 37 million), the goodwill essentially relating to the plastics activities acquired through the purchases of Etex France (1994), Marley (1999) and Glynwed Pipe Systems (2001). The extraordinary result was a charge of € 4.7 million (2003: charge of € 1.9 million) and consisted mainly of a € 2.3 million write down of certain tangible fixed assets to their estimated economic value, and a loss of € 1.4 million on the business disposal made during the year. The Group’s share of the results of associated companies was € 1.1 million, and after deducting taxes of € 52 million (2003: € 37 million) and third-party minority interests of € 1.9 million, the Group share of net profit in 2004 was € 61 million (2003: € 43 million). The Group share of net current profit was € 100 million (2003: € 80 million), representing € 1.10 per share (2003: € 0.89 per share) and the Group share of net current cash flow was € 167 million (2003: € 148 million), representing € 1.84 per share (2003: € 1.63 per share).

After a good year in 2004, which nevertheless showed signs of slowing down in the second half, we remain cautious about trading conditions in 2005, which should, however, stay at a reasonable level. The early part of the year suggests that there has been some cooling of the housing markets in Europe and Australasia, and Germany still shows no sign of a sustained recovery. The continued strength of the Euro is also unhelpful in trying to sustain our European export performance. Although activity in the North American residential housing market has remained good in the first quarter of the year, the US trade deficit and continued weakness of the dollar remain a concern since any government action to tighten US monetary and fiscal policy may lead to a slowing of growth that would have a wider negative impact on the global economy. Raw material prices continue to be high, and the outlook for the remainder of 2005 remains uncertain. The major priorities for Aliaxis in 2005 once again will be to pursue initiatives to manage the Group’s cash generation and to improve performance throughout the organisation by pursuing a range of projects already identified. Aliaxis will also pursue selected development opportunities where clear advantages to the Group can be demonstrated.

Prospects for 20 05

Analysis of sales By geographical area

By industrial activity

Balance Sheet Goodwill amounted to € 484 million (2003: € 524 million), a reduction of € 40 million which was due to the amortisation charge of € 36 million and the translation of goodwill held in local currencies. Tangible assets amounted to € 506 million (2003: € 505 million). The increase of € 1 million was due to the impact of new investment (€ 72 million) and changes in the scope of the consolidation (€ 1 million), offset by the depreciation charge for the period (€ 66 million), assets sold during the course of the year (€ 4 million) and the impact of exchange and other movements (€ 2 million). Financial assets reduced from € 45 million to € 28 million during 2004, principally reflecting the sale for € 15.3 million of the Group’s 2.8% shareholding in Etex Group in exchange for part of Etex Group’s shareholding in Aliaxis SA, as well as the consolidation from 1 January 2004 of Wefa Plastics (Germany), which in 2003 was included as a financial asset. The exchange of shares with Etex Group increased the Group’s holding of Treasury shares, which are shown separately in the balance sheet.

Asia & Australasia: 9%

Africa: 4%

Other Building Products: 14%

Other: 15%

South America: 1%

Summary consolidated profit and loss account € million Turnover Operating result % of turnover Financial result Goodwill amortisation Extraordinary result Income taxes Profit from equity interests Net profit, attributable to : • Minority interests • Group Net current profit (Group share) Net current cash flow (Group share)

2004 2003 Inc/(dec) 1,680 1,612 68 199 179 20 11.8% 11.1% (44) (59) 15 (36) (37) 1 (5) (2) (3) (52) (37) (15) 1 1 63 45 18 2 61 100 167

€/per share (Group share) Net current profit Net current cash flow

1.10 1.84

2 43 80 148

18 20 19

% Inc/(dec) 0.89 23.6% 1.63 12.9%

Summary consolidated balance sheet € million

31 Dec 2003 12 524 505 45 1,086 1 313 1,400

Inc/ (dec)

Intangible assets Goodwill Tangible Assets Financial Assets Total Fixed Assets Treasury Shares Non-Cash Working Capital Total

31 Dec 2004 12 484 506 28 1,030 19 325 1,374

Capital & Reserves (Group Share) Minority Interests Total Equity Provisions and Deferred Taxation Net Financial Debt Total

574 10 584 131 659 1,374

536 10 546 134 720 1,400

38

Contact:

North America: 31% Europe: 55%

Pressure Systems: 33%

Gravity Systems: 38%

The Group’s auditors have approved the consolidated annual accounts without qualification and have confirmed that the financial information summarised in this press release is in accordance with those accounts.

Yves Mertens (Group Finance Director) Don Bailey (Group Corporate Development Manager) Tel. 32-2-775 5050 – Fax. 32-2-775 5051 E-mail: aliaxis@aliaxis.com

(40) 1 (17) (56) 18 12 (26)

38 (3) (61) (26)


/Aliaxis_Press_Release_210405  

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