Italy’s biggest cement firm, Italcementi said on Monday its consolidated net profit edged up one percent to 277 million euros in 2003 and said it saw 2004 results little changed. Italcementi said it would pay an extraordinary dividend of 0.05 euros per share to celebrate its 140th anniversary. That would come on top of a dividend of 0.27 euros per ordinary share and 0.30 per savings share, unchanged from the previous year. Operating profit at the Bergamo-based firm fell 7.7 percent to 656 million euros in 2003, with a little less than half of the decline due to the strengthening of the euro.
Italcementi said the outlook for the international economy and construction sector was slightly brighter in 2004 than last year but its operating costs would rise strongly. However, "excluding extraordinary elements and new exchange rate fluctuations, our 2004 results should be in line with 2003, partly thanks to our efficiency programme," Italcementi said. Italcementi had already reported in February that consolidated revenues rose 0.5 percent to 4.29 billion euros, helped by strong fourth-quarter sales of concrete.