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Wienerberger First-Quarter Loss Widens 9% on Hard Winter

Wienerberger AG, the world’s largest brick maker, said it’s first-quarter loss widened 9 percent after record-low temperatures in Europe delayed the annual start of construction.

The company’s net loss widened to 57.5 million euros ($75 million) from 52.6 million euros a year earlier, the Vienna-based company said in a statement today. That’s in line with the average estimate of a 57.9 million-euro loss in a Bloomberg survey of three analysts.

Revenues only declined 3 percent as price increases of 5 percent manage to help balance an 8 percent decline in volumes, the company said.

Wienerberger is emerging from an overhaul that stripped away 200 million euros in costs as it sought to weather the global slowdown and Europe’s debt crisis. The Austrian brickmaker agreed to buy out Solvay SA’s share in plastics pipe joint venture Pipelife and the deal is expected to close by the end of June.

The “portfolio clean up” give Wienerberger a better standing and makes it less dependent on one market area, Chief Executive Officer Heimo Scheuch said.

While Wienerberger expects to outperform the market, Scheuch, because of low visibility, declined to provide a forecast for the year.

Regarding the expected development in its individual regions, Wienerberger sees a difficult market development in eastern Europe, with the exception of Poland and Russia. In western Europe, Wienerberger sees “moderate growth” in Germany, “slight growth” in Scandinavia, a “stable” U.K. market and a decline in the Netherlands.

Scheuch sees the U.S. market to have “bottomed out” and expects a break-even at Ebitda level for 2012.

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