Cement Maker Bags Contracts in LatAm

Emerging Markets Investor: Company To Watch

By Gordon Platt

Cementos Argos, the leader in the Colombian cement industry, with a 51% market share, is benefiting from growing construction activity in its home market and a healthy backlog of export orders. It is the only producer of white cement in Colombia, and it also makes gray cement, ready-mix concrete, lime and mortar. The company signed a contract in July to sell $65 million of cement and other supplies to the group expanding the Panama Canal. It also sold 300,000 tons of cement to Haiti for use in rebuilding following the catastrophic earthquake that leveled the capital of Port au Prince in January.

Medellín-based Cementos Argos opened a $400 million cement plant in Cartagena in December 2009. It has a dozen plants in Colombia, as well as operations in Panama, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the United States. The company is the fourth largest cement producer in Latin America and the sixth largest concrete producer in the US.

Cementos Argos has an extensive logistics infrastructure that allows it to export cement and clinker to 31 markets around the world at competitive prices. It operates four ports in Colombia, four in the US and one each in its other locations.

Cementos Argos opened a Level 1 American depositary receipt program in the US over-the-counter market in October 2008. BNY Mellon is the depositary bank, and each ADR is equivalent to five common shares, which trade on the Colombian stock exchange.

The company’s earnings rose by 20% in the first half of 2010 to $138 million.