Lafarge Ciments , the Moroccan arm of French Lafarge SA, reported a 3.6 percent increase in 2005 earnings on Thursday as it raised output to feed a growing construction market. Net profit rose to 856 million Moroccan dirhams (US$93.5m) from 826 million a year earlier. Turnover climbed 6.4 percent to 3.151 billion dirhams, and operating profit was up 2.6 percent to 1.206 billion. The company is benefiting from a spate of state-led investments to stimulate trade, industry and tourism and improve housing for Morocco’s urban poor. France’s Lafarge owns 69 percent of Lafarge Ciments.
Lafarge Ciments said it was able to partly offset an increase in the price of coke fuel by substituting it with other energy sources and by raising cement prices. It said the extension of a second production line at its plant in Bouskoura near Casablanca will become operational in the second quarter of 2006, helping it to meet the growing demand. "For 2006 we anticipate a new year of market growth," a Lafarge Ciments spokesman said. The company has proposed an package of investments worth close to 2 billion dirhams (US$218.5m) for approval by the Moroccan government, which is due to be signed in coming weeks.