Lafarge’s first-half net profit more than doubled on higher demand for building materials amid better weather in Europe and North America, prompting the world’s biggest cement maker to improve its 2004 forecast. Lafarge said in a statement on Thursday it now expected 2004 operating income growth of more than 10 percent, excluding currency fluctuations and barring unusually adverse weather. It had initially forecast robust growth in operating income.
Lafarge said it earned 376 million euros ($452.5 million) compared with 148 million a year ago, beating the 233.7 million euros average estimate in a Reuters poll. Operating profit jumped to 876 million euros versus 670 million, also ahead of analyst estimates of 789.5 million.
"These results are clearly ahead of expectations. I think it’s a good message and the company’s outlook ... is also good news. I think the stock should perform nicely on the back of these results," said ING analyst Louis Prieto. "Our strong performance in the first half gives us confidence that the growth of our operating income on ordinary activities for 2004 should exceed 10 percent, excluding currency fluctuations and barring unusually bad weather conditions," Chief Executive Bernard Kasriel said in the statement.