Italcementi chairman confirms modest 2005 forecast

Italcementi chairman confirms modest 2005 forecast
Published: 25 April 2005

Italcementi’s (ITAI.MI) Chairman Giampiero Pesenti on Friday confirmed group targets for 2005 after Italy’s biggest cement maker gave only a modest outlook for the year due to high costs and bad weather. 

"We think we will maintain our forecasts. After the board meeting on May 4 we’ll give some more indications," Pesenti said on the sidelines of a shareholders’ meeting. 

Italcementi said in a results statement last month it expected 2005 operating income to be in line with 2004, "given that the beginning of the year was affected by disastrous meteorological conditions in many European countries". 

The group made a gross operating profit of 1.1 billion euros ($1.44 billion) in 2004, up 3.5 percent on the year but restrained by high fuel costs. A weak U.S. dollar hit earnings from abroad that were converted into euros. 

Pesenti added that Italcementi would press ahead with its strategy of expanding in Asia, particularly in India, where demand for cement is strong. 

Italcementi has been keen to strengthen its presence in emerging markets and recently took a controlling stake in Egypt’s Suez Cement (SUCE.CA). 

He also said the firm had made a total theoretical gain of EUR 83.5m (US$109.1m) on its stakes in companies such as publisher RCS Mediagroup and Mediobanca compared to the second quarter of 2004.