* Q1 revenues up 9.1 pct to 4.06 bln euros
* EBITDA up 3.4 pct to 635 mln euros
* Suez confirms 2018 earnings guidance
* WT&S unit producing decent results (Adds CEO, CFO comments)
By Geert De Clercq
PARIS, May 17 (Reuters) - French waste and water group Suez reported higher first-quarter earnings due to a sharp improvement in the volumes of waste treated in Europe, and despite lower paper prices caused by a Chinese ban on imports.
Suez’s first-quarter revenues rose 9.1 percent to 4.06 billion euros ($4.80 billion).
On an organic basis, before the integration of its GE Water acquisition, revenues were up 1.7 percent, while at constant exchange rates, they were up by 13.8 percent.
“The macro-economic environment is improving, we are seeing higher volumes of waste treated and profitability is rising,” chief financial officer Jean-Marc Boursier said on an earnings call.
Core earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were up 3.4 percent to 635 million euros while EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) climbed by 2.8 percent to 289 million euros.
Suez also confirmed its 2018 earnings guidance for revenue growth of about nine percent and EBIT growth of about 10 percent, both at constant exchange rates.
Suez said revenue in its key European recycling division was up 0.5 percent to 1.54 billion euros as price hikes in its services activities and a 3.6 percent increase in volumes were offset by a 37 percent fall in paper prices due to the Chinese import ban on waste imports.
Revenues at Suez’s new WT&S industrial water division revenue - the result of its 2017 takeover of GE Water - progressed 4 percent to 611 million euros on a pro-forma basis.
Suez chief executive Jean-Louis Chaussade said efforts to extract synergies from WT&S were yielding results. He added that the unit’s order book grew 30 percent in the first quarter.
Boursier also said that Suez plans to save 40 million euros in costs in France from 2019 and 20 million in Spain from 2020.
$1 = 0.8462 euros Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta