* Confirms debt reduction goal in 2013
* Sees cement market growth of 0-3 pct in 2013
* Q2 EBITDA down 8 pct to 922 mln eur
(Adds detail, background)
PARIS, July 26 Lafarge confirmed its
goal to shrink debt below 10 billion euros ($13 billion) this
year and said it would aim to cut it further below 9 billion in
2014 as it seeks to regain its investment grade.
The French cement maker trimmed its forecast for the cement
market, however, saying it now expected growth of between 0 and
3 percent this year, instead of between 1 and 4 percent.
The revised forecast reflects bad weather conditions in the
period but also assumes more positive trends in the second half
of the year, Chief Executive Bruno Lafont told reporters on
Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and
amortization declined 8 percent to 922 million euros in the
second quarter while sales fell 3 percent to 4.11 billion, as
growth in emerging markets only partly offset weak mature
markets in North America and Western Europe.
Net profit totalled 201 million euros, compared with 39
million in the same period a year earlier when earnings were hit
by exceptional items.
"Soft results but not as bad as some investors feared," Bank
Of America Merrill Lynch analysts wrote in a note to clients.
"Full-year volume guidance for the group market was revised
... to account for weaker volume trends in North America, Middle
East and Latin America. This should not surprise investors in
Lafarge has been selling assets and cutting costs to reduce
its debt pile and regain its investment grade status. The debt
reduction goal in 2014 will be achieved through further asset
disposals and cost savings, Lafont said.
The size of its debt results mainly from the 2008 purchase
of Egypt's Orascom and has led to "junk" ratings from agencies
Standard & Poor's and Moody's.
Net debt at the end of June was 11.88 billion euros, a
reduction of 700 million compared with a year earlier, Lafarge
Shares in Lafarge, which have gained around 5 percent in the
last six months, closed at 49.31 euros on Thursday.
($1 = 0.7555 euros)
(Reporting by Elena Berton; Editing by James Regan)