James Hardie Industries delivered a jump in first quarter profits, but warned its Australian sales could be hurt by negative sentiment from an ongoing inquiry into its asbestos liabilities.
The embattled building products company Tuesday showed that its underlying business remained strong, posting a 13 per cent rise in operating profit from continuing operations to $US37.1m for the June quarter. James Hardie also said it was comfortable that its full year operating profit would fall in the range of analyst estimates of $US135m to $US169m.
James Hardie shares have plunged more than 30 per cent since late last year, with the company currently at the centre of a New South Wales Special Commission of Inquiry into its asbestos liabilities. "It is possible that inquiry-related negative sentiment could have an impact on the future of our Australian sales," chief executive Peter Macdonald told journalists today.
Fibre cement is James Hardie’s main product, used by builders as a substitute for brick or wood home cladding. For fibre cement in Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines, net sales were up 14 per cent to $US57.3m while EBIT was 40 per cent higher at $12m.