German building materials producer HeidelbergCement narrowed its net loss after minorities to Euro 58m for the first quarter of 2004 from Euro140m for the year-ago period, the company said on May 6, 2004. Operating loss fell to Euro 33m from Euro 112m, beating analysts’ forecast of Euro 60m. First-quarter sales rose 10.2 per cent year-on-year to Euro 1.347bn, boosted by the consolidation of Indonesian company Indocement, in which HeidelbergCement owns a 65 per cent stake. Indocement boosted cement and brick sales worldwide to 13Mt, from 9.4Mt in the 1Q. In the first three months of 2004, HeidelbergCement also sold its building chemicals brands Compakta and Pactan as well as Swedish subsidiary SRS Industry as part of its plans to focus on core business.
HeidelbergCement expects Euro 250m gains from divestments and spin-offs. It will use the proceeds to reduce debts, which totalled Euro 4.24bn at the end of March 2004. The company sees considerable sales and profit growth for 2004 as a result of effective cost-cutting measures, CEO Hans Bauer said, but did not provide specific figures.