Recent British acquisition Aggregate Industries helped Holcim, the world's second biggest cement-maker, to put on a strong profits spurt in the first nine months of the year.
The Swiss group, which paid £ 1 . 8 billion for Leicestershire-based Aggregate in April, said yesterday that net profits for the January to September period rose by by 58 per cent to £605 million on the back of a boom in construction in some parts of the world.
Third quarter earnings rose to £ 267 million from £175 million in the same period last year.
Sales for the first nine months rose by 34 per cent to £5.9 billion while third quarter revenues were were 50 per cent up at £2.4 billion.
Aggregate, with its 142 quarries in the UK and the US, 164 readymix concrete plants, 90 asphalt plants and 32 precast concrete factories, is expected to add more than £1.6 billion of turnover to Holcim in its first full year under the Swiss flag.
It has helped its new owner to diversify out of its core cement business and has opened up new avenues of business in the UK and the US.
Holcim said yesterday that the integration was " proceeding well" and was contributing to better results in European markets.
Since the start of the year, deliveries of cement in the region have risen by two per cent to 24 million tonnes while aggregates and readymix concrete sales were up by 33.9 per cent at 58.8 million tonnes and 27.5 per cent at 13 million cubic metres respectively.
So far Aggregates has sold 14.5 million tonnes of aggregates and 13 million cubic metres of concrete, plus three million tonnes of asphalt.
In the spring, Holcim had said it expected growth in internal operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation ( EBITDA) to exceed five per cent. Yesterday it said it would achieve "well above" that target.
"Four out of five regions increased profits. The fantastic numbers should attract more buyers," analysts at private bank Maerki Baumann & Co said in a research note.
Looking ahead, Holcim chief executive Markus Akermann confirmed the company's EBITDA margin target of 30 per cent by the end of 2006, excluding recent acquisitions.
The strong results this year provided an "excellent" foundation for 2006, he added.
The company, which has benefited from a pick-up in demand for cement and concrete as building activities increased in the United States and parts of Europe, underlined its upbeat forecast by saying it expected encouraging business trends in all regions in the fourth quarter.
The outlook contrasts sharply with that of industry leader Lafarge, which warned investors last month that reaching its reduced profit forecast would be "challenging".
Holcim is less dependent on slower-growing industrialised countries than Lafarge and is better-placed in booming emerging markets, a strategy that has helped it to outshine its bigger rival over the last few quarters.
Shares in Holcim have risen slightly more than a fifth so far this year, outperforming Lafarge stock, which has fallen by about four per cent since January.