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UPDATE 1-Lafarge sees cement market growth in 2013
February 20, 2013 / 7:22 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Lafarge sees cement market growth in 2013

* Q4 net profit 100 mln eur

* Q4 sales down 1 pct to 3.8 bln eur

* Secured close to 900 mln eur disposals

* Aims to cut debt to below 10 bln eur as soon as possible

* Sees market growth of 1-4 pct in 2013 (Adds details)

PARIS, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Lafarge said on Wednesday it swung back to profit in the fourth quarter and predicted that stronger demand in emerging markets would help lift the cement market in 2013.

The world’s largest cement maker also reconfirmed that it aims to shrink its debt, which totalled 11.32 billion euro ($15.12 billion) at the end of 2012, to below 10 billion “as soon as possible” in 2013.

Lafarge has been selling non-core assets - among them its European and South American gypsum units - and has refocused on the cement and concrete business after losing its investment-grade debt rating in 2011.

In 2012 the group secured close to 900 million worth of divestments and will shortly exceed its target of 1 billion worth of disposals, it said in a statement.

Chief Executive Bruno Lafont told reporters that the company would continue to sell more assets in 2013.

“Our debt will decrease thanks to cash flow, a tight control on investments, our actions on working capital needs and the continuation of our targeted disposals,” he said.

In its outlook for 2013, Lafarge said it expected cement demand to move higher, driven by emerging countries as well as the recovery of housing in the United States, and predicted that its markets would grow between 1 and 4 percent this year.

Quarterly net profit was 100 million euros, compared with a loss of 3 million in the same period a year earlier, while sales declined 1 percent to 3.8 billion.

The company said it would pay a dividend of 1 euro a share for 2012.

Shares in Lafarge, which have risen around 36 percent in the last year, closed at 46.72 euros on Tuesday.

$1 = 0.7487 euros $1 = 0.7487 euros Reporting by Elena Berton; Additional reporting by Matthieu Protard; Editing by James Regan and Christian Plumb

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