Saint-Gobain of France posted moderate growth in sales for first-quarter 2012, up 3.7 percent from first-quarter 2011, according to the latest financial report from the company.

Sales of flat glass fell 5.6 percent, reflecting the slowdown in Asia and emerging countries, the contraction in solar markets and the European automotive industry, and faltering construction activity in Western Europe, according to the company.

Residential construction proved resilient overall, despite continuing contrasts between Northern Europe–Scandinavia and Germany–which continued to perform well, and Southern Europe, where conditions remained tough. France continued to enjoy upbeat trading conditions in the quarter.

According to the report, the group benefited from upbeat industrial markets in North America, and especially the start of a recovery in residential construction in the United States, which pushed the Construction Products and Building Distribution Sectors into double-digit organic growth. The Construction Products segment had sales of approximately $3.7 million compared to sales of approximately $3.5 million in the first quarter of 2011, while the Building Distribution Sector had sales of approximately $5.7 million compared to approximately $5.4 million for the same period last year.

Despite ongoing growth in Latin America, momentum in emerging countries and Asia slowed, due chiefly to the downturn in the Asian operations. Trading was weaker in Western Europe, compared to a 10.2 percent rise in first quarter 2011, primarily reflecting the downturn in the automotive market and to a lesser extent, the impact of harsh weather conditions in February on the construction sector. However, trading in other industrial sectors, excluding automotive, remained satisfactory.



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