Holcim reported a first-quarter loss on slumping demand in Europe and North America. Net loss reached SwFr68m (EUR47m) for the first three months of the year, as the group was hit by a one-off charge of EUR182m for the restructuring of its North American business.
"It was a mixed picture in the global construction markets during the first quarter of 2010," said the group.
While sales fell by 11.7 per cent in Europe and 12.2 per cent in North America during the period, in Asia Pacific, they soared by almost a third. In particular, India’s infrastructure construction boosted demand for building materials.
“While most emerging markets continued to grow, heavy snowfall and the weak economy further restrained construction activity in Europe and North America,” Chief Executive Officer Markus Akermann said on a conference call.
The strong performance in emerging markets offset the fall in the northern hemisphere, with overall sales up 4.8 per cent to SwFr4.7bn for the quarter.
Holcim forecasts that "Asia Pacific will remain on track for growth." However, for Europe and North America, the trend was uncertain, it said.
"Only over the coming months will it become clear whether the weak demand in the first quarter of 2010 was due more to the hard winter or to the general adverse economic conditions," it added.