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Wienerberger AG (0GIK)

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Wednesday 06 May, 2009

Wienerberger AG

Weak markets and severe winter influence Wiener...

Corporate news announcement processed and transmitted by Hugin AS.
The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this 

- Group revenues -37% to ¤ 360.3 million
- Operating EBITDA -82% to ¤ 16.2 million
- Wintery weather conditions and deterioration of macroeconomic
- Continuation of restructuring program to strengthen liquidity and
reduce net debt

Vienna, May 6, 2009 - In comparison with the record first quarter of
the previous year, Wienerberger AG, the world's largest producer of
bricks and the number two in clay roof tiles in Europe, recorded as
expected a massive revenue and earnings decline for the first three
months of 2009. Group revenues fell by 37% to ¤ 360.3 million and
EBITDA by 82% to ¤ 16.2 million. The development of business was
significantly influenced by the continued deterioration of
macroeconomic conditions on all markets as well as severe weather
during most of the first quarter. "Extremely mild winters during the
past two years were followed this season by heavy snows that
restricted construction activity. In addition to the already weak
markets, this situation had a further unfavorable influence on our
business. One of our current goals is to reduce inventories by the
end of this year. We therefore extended the winter standstills at our
plants, but the resulting costs had an added negative effect on
earnings. However, it should be noted that the first quarter of the
year provides only a limited basis for an analysis of the building
materials industry because of seasonal and weather-related factors -
and for this reason, an evaluation of developments at Wienerberger
over the coming months is only possible to a limited extent",
commented Wolfgang Reithofer, Chief Executive Officer of Wienerberger
AG, on the results presented today.

Bad weather and weak markets lead to sharp drop in demand
Wienerberger recorded significantly lower demand on all markets
during the period from January to March, whereby the decrease in
Eastern Europe was the most pronounced because of the strong first
quarter of 2008 with its historical record results. The strongest
revenue declines were reported by Hungary, Romania and Russia but
volumes were also low in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Moreover, foreign exchange effects had a negative influence on the
development of revenues in the region. Western Europe also reported
top-line declines on all markets, but to a lesser extent. New
residential construction in the USA remained weak. The operating
EBITDA decreased because of weaker demand and the costs arising from
extended production standstills.

EBIT clearly negative at ¤ -29.0 million
Operating EBIT for the first quarter was clearly negative at ¤ -29.0
million, compared with ¤ 42.6 million in the prior year. The shutdown
of nine plants and further cost savings in sales and administration
led to restructuring costs of ¤ 42.6 million, which included ¤ 11.4
million of cash expenses and ¤ 31.2 million of special write-downs.
Wienerberger recorded a loss in profit after tax of ¤ 61.0 million
for the first three months of 2009, as opposed to profit of ¤ 30.2
million in the prior year. Adjusted earnings per share fell from ¤
0.26 for the first quarter of 2008 to ¤ -0.39 in the first quarter of
2009 (after deduction of the hybrid coupon and an adjustment for
restructuring costs).

Seasonal increase in net debt
"Net debt rose from ¤ 890.2 million at the beginning of the year to ¤
1,067.9 million as of March 31, 2009 due to seasonal factors. Cash
flow from operating activities was negative at ¤ 85.3 million because
of the decline in earnings and the seasonal increase in working
capital. However in spite of very weak market activity, Wienerberger
was able to reduce inventories in a period that is normally
characterized by increases in this area. Cash outflows of ¤ 49.6
million for investments and acquisitions include ¤ 37.7 million for
the completion of projects started in the previous year as well as ¤
11.9 million of maintenance capex. Group equity declined from ¤
2,497.2 million at the beginning of the year to ¤ 2,364.0 million as
of March 31, 2009, chiefly due to the payment of the hybrid coupon
and negative foreign exchange differences", explained Chief Financial
Officer Willy Van Riet.

Central-East Europe with massive drop in earnings after record prior
Central-East Europe reported massive declines in comparison with the
record first quarter of the prior year due to a sharp drop in sales
volumes. Revenues fell by 54% to ¤ 93.2 million and EBITDA by 85% to
¤ 9.4 million. Among the Wienerberger regions, Central-East Europe
was the most heavily affected by the severe snow. "Results in this
segment were negatively influenced by the difficult market and
weather conditions as well as by unfavorable foreign exchange
effects, above all from Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and
Hungary", explained Johann Windisch, member of the Managing Board
with responsibility for Central-East Europe and North America. "It is
not possible to separately identify the influence of the bad weather
and the effects of market weakness on earnings, and that makes it
difficult to evaluate the development of business in this region. In
any event we are expecting substantial volume declines in all
countries, whereby the more stable macroeconomic environment in
Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia should allow these countries
to perform better than Hungary, Romania and Russia."

Bad weather leads to earnings decline in Central- and North- West
In Central-West Europe, revenues fell by 29% to ¤ 66.4 million, while
a loss of ¤ 5.5 million was recorded at the EBITDA level. Heimo
Scheuch, designated CEO and member of the Managing Board with
responsibility for North-West Europe and Germany added: "Sales
volumes in this segment declined by more than 30% - also as a result
of the bad weather. Although prices remained stable, earnings were
negative above all due to the costs resulting from extended seasonal
plant standstills. For the full year we expect a further weakening of
demand in all markets and increasing pressure on prices in Italy." In
North-West Europe revenues fell by 26% to ¤ 172.4 million and EBITDA
by 36% to ¤ 25.1 million. In addition to the cost of production
standstills, earnings were negatively affected by the bad weather and
the related drop in sales volumes. For example, sales volumes of
facing bricks and clay roof tiles in Great Britain were roughly 40%
below the still sound first quarter of 2008 (before the market
collapse in April). "Great Britain will remain weak. In France we are
expecting only a slight volume decline because of the continuing
market shift from concrete to bricks. On the market in Belgium, the
VAT reduction for building materials and construction services could
provide positive effects. The negative trend will continue in the
Netherlands", summarized Heimo Scheuch.

US-housing starts in Q1 still declining
Revenues in the North America segment dropped 33% to ¤ 35.2 million
and EBITDA declined to ¤ -5.8 million. Housing starts in the USA
continued to contract sharply, falling by more than 50% year-on-year
during the first three months of 2009. For this reason, earnings were
also affected by plant standstills and the related the costs of idle
capacity. Johann Windisch described the outlook for this region as
follows: "We expect weaker demand from the US market, in any case
during the first six months. However, stabilization may be possible
after this summer since we already saw an extremely low level of
residential construction during the second half of 2008."

Protection of liquidity, reduction in net debt and capacity
adjustment to reflect market weakness
The relevant markets for Wienerberger will definitely contract during
2009, the extent of which is however difficult to estimate. "Our top
priority remains the strengthening of liquidity as well as the
adjustment of our capacity and cost structures to match sales levels.
During the past year we closed 27 plants and implemented extensive
cost reduction measures, which should result in annual savings of
roughly ¤ 90 million in 2009. We have also announced further measures
to reduce costs and adjust capacity. Of the 20 plant shutdowns
scheduled for this year, the first nine were completed during the
reporting period. These measures led to cash expenses of ¤ 11.4
million and special write-downs of ¤ 31.2 million during the first
three months. The 2009 restructuring program is expected to result in
cost savings of ¤ 40 million beginning next year. We have limited our
investment plans to roughly ¤ 180 million this year, with approx. ¤
80 million directed to maintenance capex and approx. ¤ 100 million to
the completion of projects started in 2008. The reduction of
inventories should release at least ¤ 100 million in 2009. We also
recorded the first positive results from these measures: in a period
that is normally characterized by an increase in inventories, we were
able to achieve a reduction in this area despite lower sales volumes.
Due to the seasonality of our business, net debt rose to ¤ 1,067.9
million as of March 31, 2009. Our goal remains to reduce this figure
to ¤ 790 million by the end of the year", added Reithofer in

Earnings Data

                               1-3/2008   1-3/2009   Chg.    Year-end
                                                     in %    2008
Revenues               in ¤    574.0      360.3      -37     2,431.4
Operating EBITDA 1)    in ¤    92.3       16.2       -82     440.1
Operating EBIT 1)      in ¤    42.6       -29.0      <-100   239.8
Profit after tax 2)    in ¤    30.2       -61.0      <-100   103.3
Adjusted earnings      in ¤    0.26       -0.39      <-100   1.69
per share 3)
Free cash flow 4)      in ¤    -33.7      -93.3      <-100   195.4
Maintenance capex      in ¤    24.3       11.9       -51     98.4
Growth investments     in ¤    122.5      37.7       -69     407.2
Ø Employees                    15,162     13,140     -13     -

Segments 1-3/2009 in ¤ mill. and %

            Central-East   Central-West   North-West     North America  Investments
            Europe         Europe 5)      Europe 5)                     and Other 6)
Revenues    93.2  (-54%)   66.4  (-29%)   172.4   (-26%) 35.2  (-33%)   -6.9 (-26%)
Operating   9.4   (-85%)   -5.5  (<-100%) 25.1    (-36%) -5.8  (<-100%) -7.0 (0%)
Operating   -5.8  (<-100%) -14.1 (-28%)   9.0     (-59%) -11.7 (<-100%) -6.4 (-19%)
Total       16.1  (-57%)   5.3   (-57%)   19.0    (-76%) 5.0   (-54%)   4.2  (-39%)
Capital     847.9 (+6%)    481.6 (-7%)    1,321.6 (-3%)  611.9 (+22%)   39.7 (>100%)
Ø Employees 5,392 (-6%)    2,178 (-10%)   4,176   (-15%) 1,155 (-51%)   239  (+17%)

1) Adjusted for non-recurring income and expenses
2) Before minority interest and accrued hybrid bond coupon
3) Adjusted for non-recurring income and expenses; after hybrid bond
4) Cash flow from operating activities minus cash flow from investing
activities plus growth investments
5) Trading activities in the Netherlands and Germany were transferred
to the Central-West Europe segment as of January 1, 2009 (previously:
North-West Europe); the comparable prior year figures were adjusted
6) Including Group eliminations and holding costs; negative revenues
are due to the offset of inter-company sales in this segment

Note: in the table of segment data, changes in % to the comparable
prior year period are shown in brackets

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For additional information contact:
Karin Hofmann, Public Relations
T +43(1)60192-463  |

Barbara Braunöck, Investor Relations
T +43(1)60192-463  |

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Wienerberger AG
Wienerbergstraße 11 Vienna Austria

WKN: 83170; 
ISIN: AT0000831706; Index: WBI, ATX , ATX Prime;
Listed: Prime Market in Wiener Boerse AG;