Lafarge 9-month sales up 5.7 per cent, keeps outlook

Lafarge 9-month sales up 5.7 per cent, keeps outlook
Published: 21 October 2004

Lafarge reported a 5.7 per cent rise in 9-month sales on Thursday, thanks to higher cement prices in the United States and Europe, and reiterated its guidance for the full year. The company said it was confident full-year operating income would grow by more than 10 percent, excluding currency fluctuations and barring unusually adverse weather conditions.

The building materials company said in a statement it generated sales of EUR10.87bn (US$13.69bn) from January to September, compared with EUR10.28bn a year earlier.

Third quarter sales were 4.08 billion euros, up 5.7 percent on a like-for-like basis, which factors out currency, divestment and acquisition effects.  Analysts welcomed the sales numbers as well as the company’s reiteration of its guidance for the full year.  Currency hits, mainly the euro’s strength against the dollar, took a 3.7 percent bite out of 9-month sales.  Acquisitions, largely Lafarge’s increased stake in Lafarge Halla Cement in South Korea, added 293 million euros to sales while divestments had a negative impact of 185 million euros.

Lafarge’s cement unit showed a 7.8 percent rise in quarterly sales on the back of improved pricing in North America, most parts of Asia and Africa, and across Europe save for the United Kingdom where prices remained flat.  But volumes sold were mixed in Western Europe, with continued strength in France offsetting a sharp decline in Greece following the completion of Olympics-related building projects.  Aggregates and concrete sales gained 5.9 percent, driven by strong volumes in North America and France coupled with favourable prices.