* Q3 sales down 13.9 pct
* Expects improvement in Q4
* Keeps outlook for better H2
(Adds fund manager comment)
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
PARIS, Oct 22 Saint Gobain (SGOB.PA), the
world's biggest building materials group, kept its outlook for a
better second half of the year despite a slump in third-quarter
sales due to depressed construction activity.
Sales fell 13.9 percent from last year to 9.72 billion euros
($14.55 billion) as the global economic slowdown affected
turnover in most of St Gobain's main markets.
A Reuters poll of six analysts showed an average sales
forecast of 9.75 billion euros.
Construction companies around the world have been hit by the
U.S. building products maker USG Corp (USG.N) posting a
quarterly loss earlier this week and French rival Lafarge
LAFP.PA will post its third quarter figures next month.
St Gobain said it expected an improvement during the fourth
quarter and reiterated that the company should benefit from a
previously announced cost-cutting programme.
"The group can therefore confirm that operating income and
recurring net income for second-half 2009 will outperform
first-half figures," the French group said in a statement.
Agilis Gestion fund manager Arnaud Scarpaci said investors
should sell St Gobain shares for now. Scarpaci does not own any
St Gobain shares but he holds a St Gobain bond with a 4.68
"The euro at 1.50 against the dollar could impact the
company, along with a rise in raw material costs. It's best to
take profits on the stock," said Scarpaci.
St Gobain shares closed down 2.3 percent at 35.87 euros,
giving the company a market capitalisation of around 18.4
The stock has risen around 18 percent so far this year,
having fallen 50 percent last year. St Gobain's shares have
underperformed a 31 percent rise in the DJ Stoxx European
construction sector .SXOP.
French investment group Wendel (MWDP.PA) owns 17.5 percent
of St Gobain's capital.
(Editing by Marcel Michelson and Karen Foster)