Adds detail, CEO comment
ZURICH, April 23 (Reuters) - LafargeHolcim LHN.Sraised its full year guidance on Friday after reporting higher sales and doubling its operating profit during the first quarter, the latest positive signal for the global construction sector.
The world's largest cement maker posted net sales of 5.362 billion Swiss francs ($5.85 billion) for the three months to the end of March, up 1.3% from 5.293 billion francs a year earlier, beating analyst forecasts for 5.11 billion francs.
Recurring operating profit (EBIT) rose 102% to 528 million francs, beating forecasts of 310 million francs, helped by higher profit margins.
As a result the Swiss company raised its full year guidance, saying it now expects recurring operating profit of at least 10% for 2021 on a like-for-like basis. It had previously guided for an increase of "at least 7%".
"This continues our strong growth momentum of the last quarters, and we expect it to accelerate with the Firestone Building Products acquisition and the many government stimulus investments ahead," said Chief Executive Jan Jenisch in a statement, referring to a $3.4 billion deal announced in January.
LafargeHolcim said it was also on track to deliver the targets of its Strategy 2022 by the end of 2021, one year in advance of the original plan.
Other building companies have reported strong starts to the year as the sector recovers from last year's pandemic-driven shutdown of building sites. Germany's HeidelbergCement's HEIG.DE first-quarter earnings and sales significantly beat market expectations, prompting it to release preliminary figures ahead of schedule earlier this month.
Construction chemicals maker Sika SIKA.S earlier this week hiked its sales guidance for the year after seeing a strong start in Europe and Asia.
($1 = 0.9169 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by John Revill; editing by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi)
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