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Australia's James Hardie reports turnaround to US$150 million in full-year profit

Australia's James Hardie reports turnaround to US$150 million in full-year profit

Building products group James Hardie Industries NV said Monday it swung to an annual profit of US$152 million (euro113 million) from a US$507 million loss the previous fiscal year when it was hit by costs associated with compensating victims of its asbestos products.
But the Australian company warned that the positive results may not be sustained because of uncertainty about the housing markets in Australia and particularly the United States, where it derives most of its revenue.
Sales for the fiscal year through March rose 4 percent to US$1.54 billion (euro1.15 billion) from US$1.5 billion, but were down 7 percent in the January-March quarter to US$361 million (euro268 million).
James Hardie said annual operating profit from continuing operations for the year rose 6 percent to US$222 million (euro165 million) from US$209 million, but was down 16 percent in the fiscal fourth quarter on-year to US$54 million (euro40 million).
The figures exclude adjustments for compensation the company has agreed to pay to victims of its asbestos products. James Hardie agreed in February to pay 4 billion Australian dollars to a compensation fund over the next 40 years, ending months of negotiations with unions and asbestos support groups.
Net sales from James Hardie's key U.S. fiber cement products were down 11 percent during the fourth quarter, but its earnings before interest and tax grew by 2 percent.
"We have seen some improvement in demand in our U.S. business so far this first quarter, but the outlook for the U.S. housing market continues to carry significant uncertainty," the company said.
It said the supply of new homes for sale appears to still be greater than demand and that builder confidence remained low.
Weak market conditions were also expected to continue for the company's fiber cement business in Australia and New Zealand, and sales volumes would be down in the first quarter of fiscal 2008, the company said.
"But the business remains focussed on, and has strategies in place to grow, primary demand for fiber cement and take further market share from alternative materials including wood and vinyl siding," it said. "It is also continuing to focus on cost management."
The company also declared a final dividend of US$0.15.


Updated : 2021-10-26 14:32 GMT+08:00