Holcim posts loss, hit by harsh winter, weak economy
Holcim, one of the world's biggest cement-maker, posted on Tuesday a first quarter net loss and said that heavy snowfall and a weak economy had restrained growth in the construction industry across Europe and North America.
Net loss reached 68 million francs (47 million euros, 63 million dollars) for the first three months of the year, as the group was hit by a one-off charge of 182 million francs for the restructuring of its North American business.
"It was a mixed picture in the global construction markets during the first quarter of 2010," said the group, which is a barometer of the building industry.
"While most emerging markets continued to grow, heavy snowfall and a weak economy further restrained construction activity in Europe and North America," it added.
While sales slumped by 11.7 percent in Europe and 12.2 percent in North America during the period, in Asia Pacific, they soared by almost a third. In particular, India's infrastructure construction boosted demand for building materials.
The strong performance in emerging markets offset the slump in the northern hemisphere, with overall sales up 4.8 percent to 4.7 billion francs for the quarter.
Holcim forecasted that "Asia Pacific will remain on track for growth."
However, for Europe and North America, the trend was uncertain, it said.
"Only over the coming months will it become clear whether the weak demand in the first quarter of 2010 was due more to the hard winter or to the general adverse economic conditions," it added.
© 2010 AFP