Lafarge, a leading cement manufacturer, stood by its general full-year target after first-half sales rose to EUR6.794 bn from EUR6.350 bn a year earlier, with growth coming from all the group’s divisions.
Analysts had forecast sales of EUR6.685-6.846bn for a consensus figure of EUR6.758bn.
Lafarge managing director Bernard Kasriel reiterated the group’s target for strong full-year growth in operating profits, excluding foreign exchange effects, but did not provide figures.
"We are pleased to report the solid level of sales achieved in the first half. Continued improvement was experienced in all divisions, with more normal weather conditions in the first months of 2004 and a good second quarter.
"This strong first-half sales performance confirms our expectation of robust growth in our operating income on ordinary activities for 2004 excluding currency fluctuations," he said.
Cement operations -- which account for nearly half of sales -- were up 11.7 percent excluding currency effects in the first half, reflecting strong sales in France "where both the housing market and local public works are showing good levels of activity," the company said.
Sales of aggregates and concrete rose 8.1 per cent in the quarter, roofing 6.0 per cent and gypsum 13.7 per cent.