MEXICO CITY, April 27 (Reuters) - Mexican cement producer Cemex significantly beat analyst expectations on Thursday with a nearly ten-fold spike in first-quarter net profit, driven mostly by asset sales.
Cemex earned $336 million in net profit in the quarter, compared to $35 million in the same period in 2016, and $95 million forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.
The company has followed a plan over several years to sell assets and boost investment. During the quarter, it gained $152 million on the sale of a concrete tube business in the United States and another $98 million in financial instruments from the sale of a portion of local unit GCC.
"We have around $230 million in pending announced asset sales set to close," Cemex Chief Executive Fernando Gonzalez said in a statement.
The company's consolidated net sales grew 1 percent to $3.14 billion during the quarter, but grew 6 percent when adjusted for currency fluctuations and disinvestments.
Cemex said its total debt fell 3.7 percent in the first quarter to $12.16 billion.
Reporting by Noe Torres; Editing by Bernadette Baum