Saint-Gobain sees no rapid global rebound

French glass and construction materials firm Saint-Gobain foresees no sign of any vigorous economic rebound before the end of 2002 and confirmed its outlook for earnings growth of up to 4 percent.

Saint-Gobain, whose businesses expose it to the construction, automobile, high tech, and retailing industries, is considered a bellwether of the health of the wider economy.In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Saint-Gobain Chairman Jean-Louis Beffa said the crisis of overinvestment, particularly in the new technology sector, was far from being absorbed."I see no growth axes in this area before the end of this year or even next year," he said, adding global rebound would therefore be "moderate, but real."

"On the other hand, it will not give signs of vigor, in my view, before the fourth quarter," he added.

Beffa reitered his forecast for growth in earnings per share of between zero and 4 percent and said Saint-Gobain should benefit from a stronger rebound next year.

"We are studying investments in Asia, notably in China," he added, though he insisted Saint-Gobain had no need to change its product portfolio in the light of its results.

Saint-Gobain closed on Monday up 0.8 percent, at 193 euros.

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