Lafarge has announced a turnover for the first three months of the year of EUR2,881m, an increase of 7.1% in absolute terms and of 11.7% at the underlying level, after adjusting for exchange rate movements and changes to the scope of consolidation.
The cement operations generated a turnover of EUR1390m, an underlying increase of 12.8% on cement deliveries 13.9% higher at 24.6Mt. The strongest growth was seen in central and eastern Europe, where volumes were some 17% higher at 1.5Mt, with rises of 43.5% in Poland and 23.0% in Romania, two important markets that were badly affected by the very cold weather at the start of 2003. In western Europe, where deliveries were 4.2% higher at 6.9Mt, France and Greece stood out with volume increases of 8.7% and 10.4% respectively, better weather helped in both countries and Greece did not have the strike problems of last year. However, the strong upward trend in these two countries is not expected to be maintained for the full year.
With the exception of Egypt, the Mediterranean has made a very string start to he year and volumes are up by 21.9% to 2Mt. The North American volume increase of 17.5% to 3Mt compared with a very weak start to last year. In Latin America, a strong rebound in Venezuela was largely offset by wet weather in Brazil and overall volumes were just 1.1% higher at 1.6Mt. In Africa and the Indian Ocean deliveries rose by 23.7% to 2.9Mt, largely thanks to South Africa and Nigeria, with good demand and plant availability and reduced imports as freight costs have risen. Asia-Pacific volumes rose by 7.6% to 6.7Mt, with deliveries recovering in Malaysia and India, but Malaysian prices were under some pressure.