Slight increase in profits noted despite difficulties in the US and currency exchange declines.
Holcim has reported a slight increase in nine-month net profit to SFr518 million (US$382m), up 0.8 per cent on the same period last year.
Operating income at the world¹s second-largest cement concern was also virtually unchanged at SFr1.55bn. This figure was reached on 5.4 per cent lower net sales of SFr9.395bn. Holcim said at a news conference in Zurich on Wednesday that net profit had actually climbed by 8.2 per cent in local currency terms. The result was at the upper end of market expectations.
Holcim CEO Markus Akermann told analysts that he believed the figures were: "excellent in view of the overall economic situation in the world and
difficulties in some markets. The United States has not developed according to our expectations. Then, of course, we've had the foreign exchange impact."
However, there were clear signs of recovery in the European construction sector, Holcim said, and the market had held up well in the third quarter.
Performance in southern and eastern Europe was encouraging, but recession was continuing to plague both the Swiss and German markets.
In its outlook, Holcim said it expected higher operating margins for 2003. The company commented that it expected operational improvements in Europe, Latina America and Asia Pacific to make substantial contributions to a "solid" set of results.