Low activity levels in America cast shadow over strong performance in first nine months

French building materials producer Saint-Gobain has announced a 5.5% turnover increase for the first nine months of 2007, coming in slightly ahead of analyst expectations.

Strong growth was reported in France, other western European countries, emerging countries and Asia/Pacific but turnover in North America fell by 15.7%.

The group said turnover in the nine months to September was €32,630m (£22,669m), compared to €30,925m (£21,485m) for the same period last year.

The building distribution business saw the steepest growth, with a turnover of €14,445m (£10,034m), up 12.1% from €12,883m (£8,949m) in 2006.

Turnover in the flat glass division was up 11.7% to €4,152m (£2,884m) from €3.716m (£2581m) last year, boosted by rising demand for energy-efficient glass, while sales of construction products were up 3% to €8,447m (£5,867m).

However, the packaging business saw a 12.3% fall in turnover to €2,712m (£1,883m).

By region, France saw a 4.4% rise in turnover to €9,702m (£6,737m). Turnover in other western European countries rose by 10% and in emerging countries and Asia/Pacific, the figure was 18.4%

Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, Saint-Gobain warned that US construction markets would “continue to post a low level of activity” but said it expected business in other key markets to “remain satisfactory”.

The group reiterated its objectives for the full year as double-digit growth in operating profit at constant exchange rates and growth in recurring net income of at least 20%.