France: Lafarge has released its financial results for the third quarter of 2011, which reveal an increasing reliance on emerging markets. Its sales were up by 1% in the third quarter to Euro4.21bn and were up by 6% in like-for-like sales. Its current operating income was down by 9% to Euro750m, a 7% drop like-for-like. The group's net income was down by 10% to Euro336m.
For the first nine months of 2011, its sales are up by 2% compared to 2010 (up by 4% like-for-like) and its current operating income was down by 12% to Euro1.64bn. Its net income fell by 22% to Euro596m.
Sales in Lafarge's cement sector increased by 1% in the quarter (up by 5% like-for-like) and increased by 2% for the year-to-date (up by 3% like-for-like), reflecting volume improvements in emerging markets partially offset by the negative impact of foreign exchange. Its cement volumes increased by 6% in the quarter (up by 5% like-for-like) and by 7% for the year-to-date (up by 5% like-for-like), with growth driven by emerging markets. Pricing moved marginally higher in the third quarter versus 2010 while slightly down on a year-to-date basis. Despite the group's cost reduction programme, higher cost inflation and foreign exchange weighed on results and margins.
The group achieved Euro50m of structural cost savings in the third quarter and Euro150m for the year-to-date, on pace with its Euro200m full-year target. Lafarge also announced a new cost savings programme of Euro500m for 2012. The group made the strategic decision to divest its gypsum activities in the early part of the quarter. In total, Lafarge has secured over Euro2bn of divestment proceeds for 2011 for debt reduction.
Bruno Lafont, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lafarge, said, "In the current economic environment, the group continues to be proactive and already secured over Euro2bn of divestments as part of its actions to reduce debt. These efforts will continue and today the Group is announcing a new Euro500m cost reduction programme. These measures, including price actions in response to a high cost environment, are part of ongoing steps to strengthen profitability, reduce debt and maintain strong liquidity."
"Looking ahead, the fundamentals of our business are strong. The group, fully focused on its core businesses, foresees sustainable cash-generating growth led by high quality positions, a unique exposure to emerging markets and the advantages created by innovative products and solutions."
Overall, Lafarge continues to see cement demand moving higher and maintains its estimate of market growth of 2-5% in 2011 compared to 2010. Emerging markets continue to be the main driver of demand and growth and Lafarge benefits from its well balanced geographic spread of high quality assets.