Moroccan cement firms are set to publish some of their best results ever due to the government’s drive to build housing for the poor and develop the country’s infrastructure, traders and analysts said . Ciments du Maroc, the second largest operator, set the tone this week by announcing a 36 per cent rise in net profit to 556 million dirhams ($63.7m) in 2003. Turnover rose 11 per cent to 1.87 billion dirhams. The firm, which is owned by Italcementi, has proposed a dividend of 31 dirhams, up from 26 dirhams in 2002. ’Building and public works continued to grow in 2003 due to the dynamism in sectors linked to tourism, programmes of housing for low-income households and infrastructure,’ Ciments du Maroc said in a statement.
’We expect record results for the listed companies in 2003, because the whole (cement) sector benefitted from the launches of various housing and infrastructure programmes,’ one sector analyst said. The cement industry contributes four per cent of Morocco’s Gross Domestic Product, runs an annual turnover of 6.0 billion dirhams and employs 3,000 people.
Cement sales rose 9.3 per cent in 2003 to 9.3Mt. Four firms control the industry: Lafarge Ciments, Holcim Maroc (CIOR), Ciments du Maroc and the smaller Asment Temara, owned by Portuguese Cimpor. The 2003 results are expected within the next month. Cement sales per capita, now at 300 kg leaving room for growth, analysts say. After ending 2003 up 74 per cent, Lafarge Ciments has risen 20 per cent so far this year on the bourse. Ciments du Maroc rose 40 per cent in 2003 and 27.3 per cent so far in 2004, while Holcim gained 25 per cent in 2003 and 7.2 per cent this year.