Lafarge posted a forecast-beating 10.6 per cent rise in 2005 sales on Monday, as buoyant construction markets lifted its cement, concrete and plaster revenues. Lafarge generated revenues of 15.969 billion euros ($19.11 billion) last year compared with 14.435 billion in 2004, the French building materials company said in a statement. This was above a Reuters Estimates average forecast of 15.488 billion.
The company, which last week unveiled plans for a $3 billion buyout of minority shareholders in its US unit, made no comment on its outlook ahead of the publication of its full-year results on Feb. 23. The group said in September that it was expecting full-year operating profit growth at the lower end of a 6 to 8 percent range, but later called this target "challenging" due to a weakening in markets in the Great Lakes and northeast of North America.
Lafarge, like others in the sector such as Swiss rival Holcim , has benefited in recent quarters from a general pickup in construction markets, notably in North America, eastern Europe and large parts of western Europe, on the back of a stronger economies. But Lafarge is more dependent on slower-growing industrialised countries than Holcim and is not as well placed in booming emerging markets, analysts said.
Full-year sales at Lafarge’s core cement division, which accounts for around half of the group’s total turnover, rose 11.5 percent to 7.595 billion euros, while revenues from its aggregate and concrete business rose 13.3 percent to 5.378 billion.
Lafarge shares, which closed 0.9 percent lower at 87.45 euros on Friday, have gained 15 percent since the start of the year after worries about the quality of its earnings and acquisition plans had capped its gains to 7 percent in 2005.