Cement giant Holcim sees profits drop on strong franc

Swiss cement giant Holcim said on Thursday its 2011 first half net profit fell by 4.2 percent to 586 million francs ($735.3 million), due to the franc's strength.

“An appreciable number of other Group companies improved their results in local currency terms, but these successes were cancelled out in the consolidated financial statements by the strength of the Swiss franc,” it said in its quarterly statement.  

The currency also affected sales, which dropped 7 percent to 10.1 billion compared to a year ago, even though volumes increased in all segments, Holcim said.  

“In the first half of 2011, demand for building materials followed a positive development in many markets in the emerging countries, with Asia and Latin America in particular continuing to grow,” it said in a statement.  

The group’s outlook was mixed, the world’s number two cement maker said.  

“As a leading supplier for the construction industry, Holcim depends heavily on developments in economic activity, which are currently not easy to read,” it said.  

“In Europe, a rise in demand for construction materials is expected in many places. By contrast, there is not yet a sign of an upturn in the construction sector in North America.  

“Most emerging markets in Latin America and Asia are expected to remain on a positive track for growth, while no change is anticipated in business conditions in Group region Africa Middle East,” Holcim concluded.