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Saint-Gobain Third-Quarter Revenue Rises 7.8%, Led By Asia

Cie. de Saint-Gobain SA, Europe’s biggest supplier of building materials, said third-quarter sales rose 7.8 percent, helped by higher demand in emerging markets and an improvement in European construction markets.

Revenue rose to 10.5 billion euros ($14.6 billion) from 9.72 billion euros a year earlier, the Paris-based company said today in an e-mailed statement. That compares with an average estimate of 10.3 billion euros in a Bloomberg survey of five analysts. Excluding acquisitions, asset sales, and exchange rates, revenue rose 2.3 percent, Saint-Gobain said.

Sales in the quarter “continued to be driven by the emerging countries and Asia region and by the Innovative Materials Sector,” allowing price increases in all the group’s divisions “over the past few months,” the company said. European construction “gathered pace,” while North American construction markets “were hit by repercussions of over-optimistic expectations from distributors.”

Saint-Gobain said on Oct. 13 the company may sell a minority stake of its packaging business in an initial public offering next year. Chief Executive Officer Pierre-Andre de Chalendar wants the maker of glass, plasterboards and pipes to focus on housing and construction products, and seeks medium-sized acquisitions in emerging markets and in the energy- efficiency and solar-energy industries.

Packaging Revenue

Revenue at the packaging business rose 0.2 percent on a comparable structure and currency basis to 923 million euros in the third quarter. Like-for-like sales rose 1.4 percent at the distribution unit, while they fell 3.1 percent in the construction products unit and advanced 13 percent at the glass and innovative materials unit.

The French supplier of flat glass, packaging and pipes reiterated its full-year goals of “strong growth” in operating income at constant exchange rates, with an operating income for the second-half 2010 “slightly above the first half.” It also maintained its goal for free cash flow of 1.4 billion euros, while keeping “a robust financial structure.”

Saint-Gobain said it will focus on controlling prices, and passing on higher costs for raw materials and energy.

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