HeidelbergCement AG (HEI), the world’s third-largest maker of cement, predicted operating profit and sales will rise this year on growth in Asia and Africa and a weaker increase in raw material and energy costs.
Net income in 2011 rose 4.5 percent to 534 million euros ($695 million), the Heidelberg-based company said in a release today. Sales advanced 10 percent to 12.9 billion euros. Both figures beat estimates by analysts in a Bloomberg survey. The company had reported preliminary earnings on Feb. 9.
“Deleveraging remains the highest priority for us,” Chief Executive Officer Bernd Scheifele said in the statement. “We will again intensify our efforts to reduce costs and improve efficiency.´´
HeidelbergCement will expand an cost-cutting target by an additional 250 million euros by 2013, and aims to save another 150 million euros by 2014 by optimizing its supply chain. The company proposed a dividend of 0.35 euro for each share, an increase of 40 percent. The Bloomberg estimate was for a payout of 40 cents.
The cement maker climbed 3.8 percent to 44 euros in Frankfurt trading as of 11:25 a.m.
Lafarge SA (LG) CEO Bruno Lafont said on Feb 17 that he ‘‘hopes’’ profit will rise this year at the world’s largest cement maker, without being more specific or making a forecast for sales. Holcim Ltd. (HOLN), the industry’s number two, on Feb. 29 forecast higher earnings for this year.
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