April 30, 2020 / 5:36 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Geberit says nearly all markets hit by coronavirus as Q1 profit falls

(Adds details, outlook)

By John Revill

ZURICH, April 30 (Reuters) - Geberit said the new coronavirus pandemic started to affect "practically all markets" from the second half of March, as the Swiss plumbing supplies company reported a decline in first-quarter operating profit.

Operating cashflow fell 0.7% to 260 million Swiss francs ($266.9 million), while net profit fell 4.4% to 184 million francs.

The company, whose products are used in new construction and renovation projects, had already announced a 3.9% fall in its first-quarter sales, caused mainly by the rising value of the Swiss franc..

An 1.5% improvement in local currency sales became a 3.9% decline when revenue was converted to the franc, which has risen in value as investors - riled by virus-driven market turbulence - sought safe-haven assets.

Geberit said market conditions had not changed since early April, with construction sites in Italy, France, Britain, South Africa and India largely closed due to precautions to halt the virus.

Showrooms where it displays its products, which include ceramic bathroom fittings and shower toilets, were being reopened in several countries.

Geberit, whose results are seen as an indicator for the broader construction sector, said due to the volatile and uncertain environment it was impossible to give an outlook for the rest of the year.

$1 = 0.9743 Swiss francs Reporting by John Revill, editing by John Miller and Michael Shields

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