February 11, 2020 / 8:26 AM / in 14 days

UPDATE 1-James Hardie lifts outlook after Q3 profit rises on U.S. housing recovery

(Adds details on outlook and results, background, shares)

Feb 11 (Reuters) - James Hardie Industries on Tuesday posted a 17% jump in its third-quarter profit and raised the lower end of its fiscal 2020 outlook, underpinned by an improvement in the U.S. housing market.

The Ireland-based company has benefited from a recovery in the U.S. housing market, driven by cheaper mortgage rates after the Federal Reserve cut rates thrice last year. The U.S. division makes for about 70% of the firm's revenue.

Adjusted net operating profit for the quarter ended Dec. 31 climbed to $77.4 million, and it tightened its full-year adjusted net operating profit range to between $350 million and $370 million — lifting the lower end from $340 million. Its revenues rose to $616.7 million.

James Hardie also said the volume from its North America fibre cement segment rose 11% for the quarter, with a 30% rise in earnings from the division.

Meanwhile, the company said its Australian business continues to perform well and deliver profitable growth, although it expects the country's housing market to contract in fiscal 2020. The results were reported after market hours, with James Hardie shares rising as much 3.1% to a record intraday high.

The company had requested a trading halt in its shares around mid-day due to a clerical error resulting in the potential early release of its earnings. The company was due to report on Wednesday.

Reporting by Niyati Shetty and Shruti Sonal in Bengaluru; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Uttaresh.V

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