Holcim operating profit rises as cost cuts bear fruit

ZURICH, April 28 Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:11am EDT

ZURICH, April 28 (Reuters) - Swiss cement maker Holcim posted a 9 percent rise in first-quarter operating profit on Monday, bearing the fruits of a cost-cutting programme as it prepares to merge with French rival Lafarge.

The Jona-based company reported operating profit of 295 million Swiss francs ($335 million) compared with 270 million a year earlier boosted by higher cement volumes and cost cuts.

First-quarter sales fell 5.4 percent to 4.09 billion francs as adverse currency moves offset stronger volumes, particularly in Europe, where a mild winter buoyed construction work.

Excluding the impact of currencies, sales increased 7.8 percent. ($1 = 0.8810 Swiss Francs) (Reporting by Caroline Copley)

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