James Hardie Industries, the world’s top fibre cement building materials maker, posted a 47.2 per cent fall in full-year net profit, hurt by higher asbestos claim settlement costs.
Net profit for the year ended March 31 came in at $US146.1 million ($192.7 million), compared with $US276.5 million a year ago. That fell short of the $US278.31 million mean estimate of 10 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"Asbestos adjustments for the quarter and full year primarily reflects the unfavourable movement in the actuarial adjustment of $US195.8 million recorded at year end," James Hardie said in a statement.
However, net sales grew about 7 per cent to $US2.05 billion, from $US1.92 billion a year ago, helped by strong volume sales in the North American fibre cement business, with new US single-family homes sales in the western part of the United States surging to their highest level in more than 11 years in March.
James Hardie said US unit sales prices grew 5 per cent over the course of the year.
The firm said it expected its key North America fibre cement segment's earnings before interest and tax margin for fiscal year 2019 to be in the top end of the 20 to 25 per cent target range provided by it.
The firm, which has a manufacturing presence in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines, completed the purchase of the German holding company of fibre gypsum board maker Fermacell from Xella International in April. The deal, worth €473 million ($735 million), was seen as a move by the company to diversify both its geographic exposure and product mix.
The firm declared a second half ordinary dividend of 30 US cents per security.