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The Company operates through its four divisions: Cement, Aggregates, Concrete and Gypsum.
It has been slammed due to the slowdown in China and worries about the world economy and housing markets in particular. However, I believe it is now undervalued back to 1987 levels and 5% dividend
Lots of cement will be needed in the next few years to build and/or rebuild roads, bridges, airport runways, etc. infrastructure spending will be a top priority.
There are three major cement makers in the world: Cemex, Lafarge, and another Swedish company that does not have as large of a presence in the US. Taking into account the large possibility of infrastructure, communications, and power production expansions as planned by the Obama administration, cement is very likely to shoot up in demand within the next year or so. And out of the two companies with larger presences in the US, CX is virtually overwhelmed with debt. It would take a lot of sales to dig itself out of the pit it is in. Lafarge. on the other hand, is in a much better position and will likely be rewarded by high cement/concrete purchases by the US government.
One word... CONCRETE.
restructuring and cost-cutting plans will start giving results
Lafarge SA, formed way back in 1830’s in France, is a world leader in building materials. Its operations are divided into four key segments: Cement, Aggregates and Concrete, Roofing, and Gypsum. The cement segment that provides large variety of products like white cement and oil-well cements, and hydraulic binders contributes the major chunk of about 47% to the over all revenues. While Aggregates and Concrete segments that are involved in production of ready mix concretes and hard rock aggregates, generate one third of the total inflows. The company holds a market leader position in most its segments, with domestic Western Europe region providing bulk of the revenue.The cement industry is highly fragmented with most of the markets dominated by local players. It requires high capital expenditure and regular supply of raw materials like limestone and iron ore that is only available at limited location, and thus creates a hurdle for new entrants. The industry growth is highly coherent with the overall growth in the economy, with infrastructure and housing development acting as key drivers. The future outlook of the industry looks appealing, with growing demand in developing market, and short term supply constraints that will drive the prices higher.Lafarge is currently witnessing strong performance, with high margin Aggregates and Concrete segment driving the revenue forward. Though the U.S. housing market slowdown is hitting the volumes, it is offset by strong growth in infrastructure and industrial construction. Looking forward, Lafarge’s constant acquisition spree will help it garner some important inorganic growth in the short term, further supplemented by capacity expansion plans, as recently carried out in China. The company’s growing market share in Latin America and Eastern Europe will also add positively to the revenues. While, the recent decision to sell a majority stake in roofing business for about $2.6 billion in cash will make company concentrate on the core business. Adding to it, the rising prices of cement and strong hold in the growing markets, makes Lafarge a strong investment.
Flexible concrete is only the beginning. The green building boom is just getting under way, and Lafarge is a leading innovator.
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