Construction group St Gobain first-half profits fall but hopes for better second-half

The Saint-Gobain logo is seen on top of the company headquarters building at the La Defense business district in Courbevoie, outside Paris, France, May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - French construction materials group St Gobain SGOB.PA reported lower first-half profits on Thursday, although the company hoped for a better second-half performance, echoing comments from rivals LafargeHolcim LHN.S and HeidelbergCement HEIG.DE.

First-half operating profits fell 49.5% from last year to 827 million euros ($976 million). Sales slid 18.1% as the global construction industry has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has closed down building sites, but St Gobain said it had seen signs of a pick-up in June.

“In a macroeconomic and health environment which remains affected by uncertainties, our earnings growth in June and outlook for the third quarter suggest that our operating income for the second-half of 2020 will improve significantly on the first-half of 2020,” said St Gobain chairman and CEO Pierre-André de Chalendar.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Hugh Lawson