Frankfurt: Growth in Central Asia and Africa helped HeidelbergCement offset rising energy costs and weakness in Europe and North America in the third quarter, the world’s third-biggest construction materials group said on Thursday.

“Our sales volumes of building materials are showing a pleasing upward trend, particularly in Russia, Poland, Kazakhstan, and Georgia," it said.

The Heidelbergcement factory stands in Ennigerloh, Germany. Bloomberg.

In the third-quarter operating income before depreciation (OIBD) edged up 0.1% to €778 million ($1.1 billion), above the €747 million average forecast given by analytsts in a Reuters poll.

Cement sales in North America recovered after severe weather slowed demand in the second quarter, but HeidelbergCement still posted the slowest growth there.

It said it did not expect a recession in North America and Europe this year or next year, as long as the plan to rescue debt-laden Greece is implemented.

HeidelbergCement, which has been trying to cut costs to offset soaring energy expenses, said its operating margin in the third quarter improved to 21.5% from 19.2% in the previous quarter, though it was still lower than a year ago.

It said prices for energy and raw materials reached their peak after rising in the first half and have recently declined slightly. It said it still sees sales and operating profit up this year.

French rival Lafarge , the world’s largest cement maker, is due to report quarterly results on Friday, with Switzerland’s Holcim following on 9 November.

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