1 CEMENTOS ARGOS S POSITION REGARDING THE DEBATE ABOUT PRICE LEVELS AND COMPETITIVE PERFORMANCE OF THE COMPANY IN COLOMBIA In relation with the recent debate reported by the news media during the last few days, Cementos Argos informs its investors some important points to be included in this analysis: 1) Cementos Argos does not participate in any agreement related to price fixing nor to the geographical distribution of markets with any of its competitors. 2) We will cooperate with the correspondent authorities, as we have always done, in order to clarify and answer any kind of official enquiry. 3) The information given by the media is not precise and do not correspond to the market reality. For instance, it is not true that the price of cement in Colombia is five times higher than the average price in Latin America or the US. 4) We participate in a competitive market in which we introduced a value proposition to our customers that has allowed us to become leaders in the market. In this market, as in any market with free competition, prices adjust according to supply and demand but also considering the cost structure and distribution channels specific to each country. 5) The Colombian market is attractive and has high growth potential. This is why it constantly attracts new capital investment both from Colombian as from global players, even though, by definition is an industry highly capital intensive. For this reason, in Cementos Argos we have developed a value added strategy, based on service, technical support and access to the product and proximity to the end user with the ultimate goal of being able to compete in the market. This strategy has allowed us to maintain a high market share for bagged cement and for the industrial segment. This segment presents high growth, specially driven by the infrastructure projects in progress in Colombia. 6) In the production and commercialization chain of cement, from which we are part, there are a multitude of players that generate employment to more than
2 10,600 families. These players benefit from a competitive and growing industry. Among these players there are: six cement producers, an array of importers, close to 8,000 hardware stores across the country, around 2,300 construction companies and more than 2,400 cement transporting vehicles, among other. This is why it is incorrect to say that the value charged for a cement bag in its final destiny is the income received by the producer. Healthy margins based on fair prices Cementos Argos is a company in continuous improvement regarding operating efficiencies, initiative that will continue as one of our management cornerstones. Evidence of this is the reduction on 7% in direct costs associated with cement production in Colombia during the first half of This improvement has been the main driver of margin increase in the year to date. Additionally, Argos exhibits operational margins in line with the global industry standards as shown in the graph below, which reinforces our position against the idea published by some media which states that the prices in Colombia are out of proportion. As mentioned before, cement prices in Colombia are adjusted by an efficient self-regulated market through free supply and demand. Global cement players margins 2H2013 Source: Bloomberg Supply and demand in Colombia National demand has doubled in Colombia in the past 10 years, going from 5.1 million metric tons in 2002 to 10.5 million metric tons in 2012.
3 In the same way, the industry has doubled the number of producers in the last five years. Today, there are six operating companies in Colombia and there is a seventh company ready to start operations in the near future. Cement Prices in the regional context Each country has specific price structures related to each particular situation of energy and fuel costs, taxes, freights, distribution channels, among other. In Latin America there are prices both higher and lower than in Colombia. However it is not true that the price in Colombia is five times higher than the prices in other countries in the region. Price per ton, as sold in a hardware store is shown in the following chart: Cement prices per metric ton in the region Source: Final customer purchase receipts at retailers. Commitment to equality and social programs As it is presented in the above graph, prices for bagged cement in Colombia is within the price range of the region. For the social housing program or Vivienda de Interes Social VIS, Argos gives an important discount in order to support social programs driven by the government. In this sense, we have been contributing to the social development of the most needed communities since 2006 through a preferential price, which has represented an important expense in terms of profitability, with an aggregate amount of discounts of COP 145 thousand million, benefiting a total of 480,000 housing units through the dispatch of 23 million bags of cement. It is important to mention that the price per ton of cement to a construction company of VIS housing in Colombia is USD 182, disregarding the place of delivery in
4 Colombia. If an average price of transport is deducted from this price, the revenue earned by the producer is USD 147 per ton. Exchange variation distorts comparability Cement is a product that is commercialized locally. Given that, comparing prices of different countries, using USD as a comparison currency, introduce an element of distortion related to the relative valuation of foreign currencies. In the last decade, the currencies in the Latam region have had a divergent behavior. As shown in the chart below, while in the period the Colombian peso appreciated 34% against the USD, currencies like the Argentinian peso and the Costarican Colon have seen devaluation of 64% y 32% respectively. Exchange rate variation Source: Bloomberg With this in mind, if today we take the price per ton of cement at a hardware store in a distant location in Colombia, and take the FX of the year 2002, we would see that in Colombia the price would go from USD 250 to USD 166 at the average exchange rate in 2002, while in Argentina the price would move from USD 200 to USD 328 per ton.
5 Cement Price with 2002 and 2013 exchange rates Industry s cost structure Source: Bloomberg, Argos In the cement industry around 50% of the cost structure relates to particular factors that depend on the economic dynamics of each country, affecting costs differently, and therefore affecting selling prices also. In the Colombian case, transport and distribution weigh 24%, fuel cost 11%, electricity 8% and raw materials 7%. Cement production cost structure in Colombia Factor Participation Transportation out (19%) & in (2%) 21% Other Indirect 15% Other Direct 13% Maintenance 9% Electricity 8% Raw materials 7% Sales 6% Coal 6% Gas 5% Administration 5% Labor 3% Distribution Nodes 3% Mandate 0% Total 100% Source: Argos
6 Cement by definition is a product characterized by its low tradability, due to its low economic density (value vs. weight). From the above mentioned factors transport is not only the most relevant but also the most expensive when compared to other countries in the region. In Colombia, the cost of transporting a ton per kilometer almost doubles the average cost in the region. Transport cost Ton/Km (USD), highest levels in the región Source: Freight chart Ministry of Transport of Colombia and different countries (Exchange rate: COP 1,980 / USD) Also, taking into account the cost of mobilizing a container, including the processes related to import/export (documents, administrative fees, customs, technical, fees, terminal handling and ground transportation), Colombia is also ranked poorly in competitiveness. 20 feet container transport cost Source: World Bank
7 The low level of infrastructure development in Colombia, evidenced by being ranked in the position 126 out of 144 countries in the road infrastructure development index from the Global Competitiveness Report , clearly explains why the over cost in cement transport in the Colombia. Road infrastructure competitiveness world ranking Source: Global competitiveness report , IMF In is important to take into account the country s specific sales tax structure as presented in the following graph. When the sales tax is not included, the price per bag in Colombia would be in line with the price in Texas (US), compared with an equivalent distribution channel as the normally used in Colombia (retail) Cement Sales Tax (%) Source: Latin America indirect tax guide
8 Cement as part of the housing construction in Colombia The housing construction cost index ( Índice de Costo de la Construcción de Vivienda - ICCV ) published by DANE 1 is divided into three categories: materials, labor and machinery and equipment. Cement (gray or white) does not weigh more than 3% of the total construction cost, even below iron-ore and steel (4.7%), machinery and equipment (5.4%) and labor (28.5%) Main components of ICCV Source: DANE In the same way, cement has not have an important weight in the ICCV variation as shown below. The maximum weight historically seen was in 2006, when it contributed 0.6% to the total 6.6% ICCV variation. Participation in ICCV variation Source: DANE 1 National Department of Statistics in Colombia
9 ICCV Price of cement has increased at a slower pace than the minimum wage, the ICCV, the PIB per capita and the PPI as shown below: Cement prices index variation vs. other market variables Source: DANE When the behavior of cement prices is analyzed during the past 10 years, it can be concluded that the increase in such prices has not affected the cost structure of housing since it has been below the increase in ICCV. In Colombia a monthly minimum wage can buy up to 24 bags of cement today, while 10 years ago, it could purchase 17 bags. The minimum wage in Colombia has increased 47% more than the price of cement during the same period. Legal Monthly Minimum Wage evolution vs. bags of cement per Legal Monthly Minimum Wage Source: DANE- Argos
10 According to a publication by Fedesarrollo, the cement cost is not meaningful for the aggregate construction costs and represents only 5% of the cost of building a VIS house: Distribution of the costs related to construction of VIS housing Source: ICCV methodology, DANE, Camacol Also, if the case of Bogota is taken as a reference, the increase of the average price of land per square meter in all socioeconomic strata has presented a higher percentage increase than cement price variation in most strata. From 2007 to 2012, the price of cement has increased 45%, while prices per square meter in Bogota, in social strata 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 have increased 94%, 114%, 91%, 74% y 77% respectively. M 2 price variation in Bogota vs. cement price variation ( ) Source: Camacol
11 Cement in construction of infrastructure The cement has reduced its impact on the cost of construction of infrastructure in recent years. According to DANE, in the Heavy Construction Cost Index ( Indice de Costos de Construcción Pesada, cement represented in % of the index, while the 2013 it weighs 7.49%. As mentioned above, fees related to freight represent a high percentage in the cost of production and sale of cement. In the case of rural infrastructure projects, where Argos serves a very high market share in Colombia, freight is three times the national average freight, reaching over USD 70 per ton. Cement Price variation in 1H2013 Cement price to the public has increased less than inflation, PPI and housing construction costs so far this year. According to the housing construction cost index ( Índice de Costo de la Construcción de Vivienda - ICCV ) analyzed by DANE, the price of cement in hardware stores has increased 0.46% so far in 2013 and 1.45% in the last twelve months. Moreover, the housing construction cost index (ICCV) has increased at a higher rate: 1.98% year to date and 2.15% in the 12 months. The increase in the price of cement has also been much lower than inflation and the Producer Price Index (PPI) for the same period. YTD variation as of June months variation as of June 2013 Cement Price Cement Price PCI PCI ICCV ICCV Sourse: DANE - Argos
12 These figures show that the cement is not the generator of the increase in the cost of housing construction and also that the Colombian has gotten more purchasing power in the last year than the increase in the price of cement. At Argos we offer more than a commodity The cement industry is by nature oligopolistic due to its particular barriers to entry, but it is also dynamic and competed. To differentiate ourselves from our competitors, at Argos, we have developed a business model focused on generating value added for our clients both in cement in concrete. We achieve this by offering a portfolio of services that complements the pure commodity, and we transform it into a differentiated product, tailor-made to the needs of our customers. Our business model is based on providing commercial and technical assistance in order to guide the purchasing decisions of our customers and then to optimize the use and effectiveness of our products; built on a brand that emotionally links customers, who receive a differentiated service that exceeds their expectations. According to this, we have improved the understanding about our final consumers, being able to reach them more directly, guaranteeing the supply of the product through an increasingly efficient distribution chain. Therefore, we decided to segment our offering in two value propositions: one focused towards retail customers (massive business), and another towards the customers who use and transform our products into their main business (industrial business). Our massive business customers choose us based on the closeness we develop with them, which ensure product availability and also provide: support for hardware store owner (retailer), to distributors, and to construction foremen, to grow their businesses and to access better financing alternatives. In Colombia, today Argos has a network of over 27 dispatch facilities and warehouses, more than 1,200 owned (or part of a loyal program) vehicles to serve more than 6,000 hardware stores that are located in 700 municipalities. We also provide technological tools and business training to more than 1,200 small hardware store owners, keeping them as allies in the product distribution; strengthen the professional development of over 5,000 construction foremen who work daily with our product and give us their preference. As for the industrial business, so important to our future growth - given the high estimated investments in infrastructure in the short and medium term - our proposal includes: tailor-made solutions for each project, a marketing based on direct customer relationship, and technical knowledge, as well as operational excellence which gives
13 the security to the builder in order to close deals us for high-scale projects such as the fourth generation concessions, energy projects and port expansions, among others. In such projects, Argos plays a leading role: we serve 14 out of the 16 prosperity corridors; we have mobile plants in more than 42 infrastructure projects nationwide, in places as far away as the Hormiga Putumayo or Quibdó in Choco, where despite the costs and logistical difficulties, we can successfully serve customers of all sizes and nationalities. With these type of initiatives developed over the past years, we have become the most relevant player in the cement and concrete business in Colombia. We have managed to comprehensively serve our customers in most of the Colombian geography, through efficient operation of 10 cement plants and over 50 concrete plants, coupled with commercial and logistics differentiating skills, which have enabled us to importantly contribute to growth and development of Colombia. We are committed to free enterprise and to the pursuit of efficiency in the markets where we participate; in this regard, we take autonomous decisions, and we do not perform acts that could harm our customers, suppliers or other related industries with our economic activities.
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