Holcim's earnings leap despite lower sales
Swiss cement group Holcim recorded a jump in earnings for the first half of 2013 of almost 50 percent compared to the same period a year earlier but also reported that sales fell.
The world's largest cement maker, which is working to crimp costs, said on Thursday that net profit rose by 47.4 percent to 571 million francs ($612.3 million).
Analysts polled by the AWP agency had broadly expected earnings of 529 million francs.
But sales were lower than analysts had expected, totalling 9.6 billion francs, a fall of 5.1 percent on a 12-month comparison.
Analysts had expected 9.7 billion francs.
The group said that sales had fallen because of weak economic conditions.
Sales had been lower than expected in India, its key market in Asia, and also in Canada, Mexico and Morocco.
Another factor had been a hard winter in the northern hemisphere which had crimped activity in the construction industry.
Holcim said that a programme to contain costs was going well.
Action to restructure the business was beginning to have a clear effect in Latin America and in Europe.
The company said that it expected sales of cement this year to increase but that sales of aggregates and concrete mix ready for use would be lower than in 2012.
The group stood by its financial targets and said it expected to achieve internal growth of its operating and net profit figures.
However, this is more cautious than its outlook at the end of the first quarter of the year when it spoke of achieving a "significant" increase.
At the end of July, French group Lafarge, the biggest cement-maker in the world and Holcim's main rival, also struck a more cautious note saying that it now expected sales of concrete to rise by three percent, having mentioned previously growth of up to four percent.