I've gotten myself in trouble with corporate PR folks for saying this, but it's true: I love boring companies in slow and no-growth industries. Vulcan Materials
But enough explaining. Today's nominee for the most boring company of the year: Lafarge North America
Lafarge reported earnings yesterday, and at first glance, the company seems to be growing considerably faster than the speed of cement drying. Diluted earnings from continuing operations (Lafarge sold a Florida subsidiary last year) for the quarter just ended jumped nearly 40%. Sales rose 15% year-on-year, helped by the strengthening U.S. economy and continued boom in residential housing construction. Confident in its future, Lafarge raised its dividend 10% and continued to buy back shares.
That's the good news. Here's what looks bad. As we have seen before with other companies that issue new, dilutive shares while buying back old ones -- DoubleClick
And speaking of long-term, over the past few years, Lafarge's business has been on the rocks. From 2000 through 2003, cash from operations declined 17%. Long-term debt increased 4%. Sales increased 19%, while profits fell 16%.
In sum, Lafarge turned in quite a good quarter yesterday. However, it still has work to do if it's to pull itself out of the hole it's dug over the past few years.
Fool contributor Rich Smith owns no shares in any company mentioned in this article.
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