James Hardie posts 92% earnings fall
James Hardie expects no big improvement in the housing market this year but says the sector has stabilised after interest rate cuts.
Chief executive Louis Gries said the building products maker expected the housing market to be flat to slightly higher.
"The operating environment in Australia is likely to remain relatively subdued and the company is not anticipating any substantial increase in net sales this calendar year," he said.
Recent interest rate cuts had prevented further declines in the housing market, he said.
James Hardie posted a net profit of $US45.5 million for the year to March 31, down 92 per cent. Full-year net profit fell significantly because of changes to the company's asbestos liabilities and a legal battle with the Tax Office.
The previous year's profit was boosted by a $US485.2 million benefit from a legal victory against the ATO in March 2012. Net operating profit, excluding legal and asbestos-related issues, was down 2 per cent to $US140.8 million.
Full-year operating earnings in the Asia-Pacific fell due mainly to strong competition and weak housing markets in Australia and the Philippines. Operating earnings from James Hardie's US and Europe operations steady and sales higher, amid improved conditions in the US housing market.
James Hardie shares were 9¢ lower at $10.36.