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Fletcher Building waits for recovery

THE chief executive of New Zealand's largest company, Fletcher Building, Jonathan Ling, has warned that Australian's housing sector is showing "clear signs" of slowing, while reporting a full-year profit result heavily affected by the Christchurch earthquakes.

THE chief executive of New Zealand's largest company, Fletcher Building, Jonathan Ling, has warned that Australian's housing sector is showing "clear signs" of slowing, while reporting a full-year profit result heavily affected by the Christchurch earthquakes.

"Market conditions have been tougher than we anticipated at the start of the year, with no recovery evident in New Zealand, and Australia showing clear signs of having slowed in the second half," Mr Ling said.

Fletcher, which is also listed in Australia, reported a 4 per cent rise in full-year net profit to $NZ283 million ($A226.61 million. Net operating earnings before one-off items was $NZ359 million, up from $NZ301 million the year before.

The results include three months of operating earnings ($NZ29 million) from Crane Group, which was bought during the year after a drawn-out takeover.

Mr Ling said while trading conditions in North America and Europe were likely to remain flat, he was hopeful of a gradual improvement in residential construction in Australia in the medium-term, given the strength of the economy.

Fletcher Building is project managing the recovery effort in Christchurch, which will see about 80,000 affected houses repaired. The rebuild has been hampered by aftershocks and protracted insurance claims but is expected to speed up in the next year. "We start with one job, then you move to the second and you stop when you get to about 80,000," Mr Ling said.

Fletcher Building will find out tomorrow whether it has won its bid for the construction of Auckland's Waterview Tunnel project, worth $NZ1.2 billion, which would provide a "quite considerable" boost for Fletcher's construction business.


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