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Construction materials group St Gobain's first half profits rise

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PARIS (Reuters) – Profits at French construction materials group Saint-Gobain <SGOB.PA> improved in the first half of the year as the company intensified its cost-cutting and benefited from stronger activity in its main markets.

First-half revenues rose 4.3% from a year ago to 21.67 billion euros (£19.32 billion), while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) advanced by 8.4%.

“The group’s results progressed significantly, driven by continued upbeat trends on our main markets, a positive price-cost spread and excellent advances in our transformation plan,” said Saint-Gobain’s CEO Pierre-Andre de Chalendar.

“The group is confirming its objectives for full-year 2019 and for the second half, in a less supportive market overall, expects a like-for-like increase in operating income versus the second-half of 2018,” he added.

He highlighted the good performance of the company’s businesses in northern Europe and in the Asia-Pacific area.

The company said it cut costs worth 155 million euros compared to the first half of 2018, and reiterated it expects to unlock additional savings of around 300 million euros.

Saint-Gobain will also stick with its program of acquiring new businesses with the proceeds of the sales of underperforming units, while it also intends to sell assets representing annual revenues of 3 billion euros.

(Reporting by Gilles Guillaume and Inti Landauro; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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