Lafarge reported a 2.2 per cent rise in first-quarter sales on Wednesday on improved prices but bad winter weather in Europe offset some of these gains. Lafarge generated sales of 2.945 billion euros ($3.79 billion) in the three months to end-March, compared with 2.881 billion a year ago, a 1.9 percent rise on a like-for-like basis which strips out acquisition, disposal and currency effects.
Industry analysts caution that first-quarter sales figures are little representative of full-year trends because of high seasonal effects. Lafarge Finance Director Jean-Jacques Gauthier said the first quarter trend did not alter the company’s view for the year "for which we expect overall favourable market conditions".
Lafarge’s sales figures follow results from Swiss rival Holcim, which said on Monday that tough winter weather and higher energy costs had weighed on sales and operating earnings, keeping its quarterly results below forecasts. Lafarge said its key cement business showed a 2.1 percent rise in sales on the back of strong demand and price increases in North America, whose full impact it said would continue throughout the year. Price increases were also realised in many of its western European markets but sales were down in the region because of harsher winter weather than in the year-ago quarter and a slowdown in demand in Greece after the Olympic Games wound down.