France's Lafarge results please investors

France's Lafarge, the world's biggest cement maker, reported Friday a first quarter net loss of 44 million euros ($58 million), up from the year-earlier 29 million euros, but the shares rose sharply.

Lafarge said it took a restructuring charge of 94 million euros as part of a cost-cutting plan and stripping out such items would have left it with a net profit of 18 million euros.

The company is seeking savings of 500 million euros in 2012 and said it had achieved cuts of 70 million euros in the first quarter.

Operating profit rose eight percent to 516 million euros, helped by a "significant improvement" in its North American business and a strong performance in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia.

In contrast, Europe was hit by bad weather in February which cut construction activity, it said.

Lafarge confirmed its estimate for global cement demand growth of 1.0-1.4 percent and reiterated plans to raise one billion euros from asset sales this year.

Investors focussed on the operating profit figures and pushed Lafarge shares up 4.85 percent in early trade on a Paris market down 0.64 percent.

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