St-Gobain Sees Moderate Earnings Growth In 2008

Saint-Gobain predicted "moderate" earnings growth in 2008 due to a possible U.S. recession and tighter credit conditions, after reporting a double-digit rise in 2007 profits that met market expectations.

The world's biggest listed building materials group that insulates one in five American homes said economic conditions were "far more uncertain" in 2008.

"We clearly have important factors of economic uncertainty this year, be it the evolution of the U.S. economy, the length of the U.S. property crisis or the impact of all this on western economies," Chief Executive Pierre Andre de Chalendar told a news conference on Saint-Gobain's full-year results on Thursday.

The weaker dollar and volatile raw material prices were other factors behind Saint-Gobain's cautious tone, leading the French group to forecast "moderate" growth in both operating profit, at constant exchange rates, and recurring net income.

"I have no crystal ball but as an industry leader we have had to make scenarios so we went for a median scenario for 2008," Chalendar said, declining to give more precise forecasts.

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