Surprise surge in asbestos claims pressures James Hardie

There has been another spike in asbestos claims linked to James Hardie products, with the cost of some claims higher than expected.

There has been another spike in asbestos claims linked to James Hardie products, with the cost of some claims higher than expected.

The company has raised the prospect that the number of asbestos claims cases could peak years from now, although the building materials maker said it needed more time to see if this trend continued.

For the past few years, James Hardie actuaries have predicted that the "peak year" for asbestos claims was financial year 2011. Figures released on Monday show between March and June this year the company received 160 new claims. This is above expectations of just 135 claims. In addition, the cost of payouts is running higher and are expected to put pressure on a compensation fund that has been set aside for victims of James Hardies' asbestos products.

James Hardie said its profit was expected to remain steady as housing conditions in the US and Australia improved. Chief executive Louis Gries said sales in the US increased 10 per cent and those in Australia had risen 5 per cent over the three months to June 30.

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