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Cement maker Holcim cautious about 2010

Swiss cement maker Holcim, the world's second-largest in the industry, gave a cautious outlook for 2010 after posting a worse-than-expected fourth quarter net profit.

The company said on Wednesday that net profit in the quarter rose to SFr271 million ($250.5 million) compared with the same period in 2008, but profit for the year as a whole was down 17.5 per cent at SFr1.47 billion.

"Uncertainty is at a high level, especially with regard to developments in Europe and North America. Much depends on whether the stimulus programs designed to expand infrastructure will indeed be implemented as proposed," the group said in a statement.

Holcim was able to prevent a larger slump through numerous plant closures and employee layoffs.

Turnover in 2009 was down 16 per cent to SFr21.13 billion.

But the Swiss cement giant was more upbeat on emerging markets, which account for around 75 per cent of its capacity, and it expects the Asia Pacific region to continue to grow this year.

Holcim's comments come after larger French rival Lafarge said it sees higher demand for cement in its markets this year, while the third-largest producer - Mexico's Cemex - has also forecast a slight improvement in its global sales in 2010.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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