Holcim earnings slump, says growth uneven

19th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Swiss cement giant Holcim on Thursday said its first half net earnings plunged 37.2 percent to 331 million Swiss francs (247 million euros, 317 million dollars) but noted growth in some markets.

The results fell short of the 475 million Swiss francs expected by analysts polled by economic news agency AWP.

As a result, Holcim shares fell 4.06 percent, making it the top loser on the Swiss Market Index in early trade.

"After a first quarter beset by heavy winter snowfall in the northern hemisphere, the overall economic picture improved slightly," Holcim said.

"In some Western European markets and in North America, demand for building materials increased, and Asia remained on a growth trajectory. Latin America and in particular the group region Africa/Middle East held up well," it added.

However, it noted that high government debt is putting pressure on stimulus programmes in Europe. In the United States, the upturn was not broad-based, the Zurich-based group said.

As a result, it issued a mixed forecast for the second half, saying that demand in Africa, the Middle East and Asia would grow further, but that in Europe and North America, the trend was "considerably uncertain."

The group's first half growth was largely propped up by Asia Pacific, where sales were up 36.2 percent to 4.2 billion Swiss francs.

This helped to offset weakness in Europe, where sales were down 8.3 percent to 3.3 billion Swiss francs, and in North America, down 2.8 percent to 1.4 billion Swiss francs.

© 2010 AFP

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