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Holcim sees boost from housing

Friday, May 22, 2009 [ ]

Cement maker ventures into waste management

By Ben Arnold O. de Vera, Reporter

Holcim Philippines Inc. said it expects low-cost housing and government infrastructure projects to fuel its growth this year amid the cancellation of high-end commercial construction activities.

During the cement manufacturer’s stockholders’ meeting, Ian Thackway, Holcim Philippines chief operating officer, said first-quarter cement demand grew 6 percent.

“We expect low-cost housing construction activities to be robust,” he said.

Holcim Philippines reported that its first quarter profit jumped 71 percent to P793 million, on a 27-percent rise in revenues to P5.5 billion.

“This certainly exceeds our expectation. We are seeing higher than anticipated growth in the market, including regions outside the National Capital Region,” Thackway said.

“Even as we started the year with very positive results, we move forward with cautious optimism,” he said.

Holcim Philippines holds about a third of the local cement market, he said.

Thackway said the company last year had to deal with the steep rise in coal prices, which almost doubled in July. While coal prices have softened beginning end-2008, the company has yet to use up the more expensive coal, he said. To save up, the company will source more coal from Semirara Mining Corp., the Holcim executive said.

Thackway said it is unlikely that they will increase their prices this year, citing the stiff competition among local manufacturers, adding Holcim has kept prices stable since October last year.

Thackway also said the company will start operations of its Quezon City ready-mix concrete facility soon.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, the cement maker said its stockholders on Thursday approved the company’s venture into waste management.

Holcim shareholders amended the company’s primary purpose to include “the handling, treatment, thermal destruction, utilization, and disposal of sorted, unrecycled, uncomposted municipal, bio-medical, hazardous, pathological, and infectious wastes through the use of environmentally-sound and safe non-burn technologies.”


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