Suez Environnement reports strong start to year

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French utility and waste management group Suez Environnement said on Thursday its first-quarter sales and operating profit rose strongly and confirmed its annual financial targets.

Sales rose by 14.3 percent to 3.5 billion euros ($5.2 billion), or by 13.5 percent at constant exchange rates. The company said organic sales growth totalled 9.7 percent.

Operating profit jumped 28.6 percent to 592 million euros, but grew by only 10.5 percent on an organic basis.

"After a sharp rise in 2010, Suez Environnement's performance is again improving significantly in early 2011," chief executive Jean-Louis Chaussade said in a statement.

"In a context of progressive economic recovery, we are improving our profitability, as we had announced, and reaffirm our 2011-13 objectives."

The company has targeted at least five-percent annual sales growth during that period with a 10-percent increase in operating profit this year followed by seven percent growth the following year.

The company's shares were showing a gain of 4.12 percent to 15.54 euros in early afternoon trading in a market up 0.43 percent.

© 2011 AFP

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