Announcing an increase of 5.6% in net current operating income, Imerys (Paris, France) said that in the first quarter of 2007 the group’s markets were favourable overall as a result of the dynamic global economy. The only markets experiencing a decrease were construction-related sectors in the USA, although they stabilised compared with the fourth quarter of 2006. The macro-economic environment was marked by a significant weakening of the US dollar compared with the euro. Energy costs for the group have now stabilised compared with the same period last year.
Gérard Buffière said: “2007 has gotten off to a satisfactory start. Our activities have benefited from favorable markets, driven by a dynamic global economy, the only exception being construction-related markets in the US. Although energy costs remain high, at this point in the year, their strong inflation that had marked the last two years appears to be under control. These market conditions have enabled us to achieve firm organic growth and our operating performance continues to improve despite negative currency impacts. Our external growth continued and I am thrilled with the success of our public bid for UCM, which became part of the Group at the beginning of April, as well as our recent acquisitions in China”.
Sales were up 1.8% from €834 million to €849.1 million. Of that total, sales generated by Ceramics, Refractories, Abrasives & Filtration were up from €307.2 million to €310.6 million. Performance Minerals & Pigments recorded sales down from €297.6 million to €285.5 million. Materials & Monolithics recorded sales up from €236.3 million to €258.8 million.
In its review of Materials & Monolithics, Imerys reported that in France, roofing markets remained healthy in Q1 and clay bricks continued to take market share away from cement blocks. With steel production remaining very dynamic, markets for monolithic refractory products were buoyant during the period.
The various markets for Ceramics, Refractories, Abrasives & Filtration were healthy overall. Minerals for Refractories especially benefited from the increase in global steel production and Minerals for Abrasives was supported by the strong European economy. Ceramic markets were stable in Europe but remained difficult in the USA, while filtration markets were stable overall.