* Positive on 2017 outlook
* 2016 net profit 548.2 mln francs, up from 422.4 mln
* Proposes raising dividend to 10 francs per share from 8.4
(Recasts, adds details)
By John Revill
ZURICH, March 14 Toilet and plumbing supplies
maker Geberit sounded an optimistic note about the
global construction industry on Tuesday after reporting a 30
percent rise in annual profit and announcing a 450 million Swiss
franc ($446.61 million) share buyback.
The Swiss company expects the building industry to "develop
favourably" during 2017, it said in a statement, with the
recovery in many European countries set to continue.
Around a third of its sales come from new building projects
and two-thirds comes from renovation work.
"Overall, a favourable market environment is expected for
Germany, the Nordic countries, Switzerland, Austria, France, the
Benelux Countries and the countries of Eastern Europe," the
company said in a statement.
It said it expected the situation in Italy and China to
stabilise, with a positive business climate in Australia and
India developing during 2017.
Geberit's comments echo the upbeat tone from the German
construction industry association which said earlier this year
it expected sales in the sector to rise by 5 percent in 2017,
driven by higher infrastructure spending and a real estate boom.
Uncertainty linked to Britain's vote to leave the European
Union would cloud the construction industry there, Geberit said.
It also expects stagnation in public sector construction in the
United States where it sees "moderate" growth in residential
Geberit, which makes piping systems and bathroom fittings,
reported an annual net profit of 548.2 million francs, up from
422.4 million a year earlier but short of the 557 million
expected by analysts in a Reuters poll.
The company had previously reported an 8.3 percent rise in
annual sales of 2.8 billion francs.
Higher sales volumes, cheaper raw materials prices and
efficiencies generated from its acquisition of Nordic ceramics
maker Sanitec, which it bought for $1.4 billion in 2015, helped
to boost profitability.
Geberit said it would return more cash to shareholders
through a 450 million franc buyback it would likely launch at
the end of the second quarter.
It also proposed raising its dividend to 10 francs from 8.4
($1 = 1.0076 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by John Revill; editing by Jason Neely)