August 9, 2019 / 1:58 AM / 4 months ago

Australia's James Hardie forecasts earnings boost, shares jump

Aug 9 (Reuters) - The world's biggest fibre cement maker, James Hardie Industries, flagged higher earnings for fiscal 2020 on Friday citing an improved performance for its North American fibre cement segment, sending its shares sharply higher.

The company said it expected full-year adjusted net operating profit to be between $325 million and $365 million, compared with $300.5 million reported a year ago.

Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) margin - a measure of a company's profitability - for its North American fibre cement segment would be at the upper end of its 20% to 25% range for the year ended March 31, 2020.

Margins would be helped by controlling input costs, better pricing and modest growth in the U.S. housing market.

The Dublin-based company's Australia-listed shares leapt nearly 15% to A$21.820 on the outlook, its highest level since September last year. The broader market was flat.

"Our North America Fiber Cement segment delivered very good volume growth in a down market while generating EBIT margin at the top end of our target range," Chief Executive Officer Jack Truong said in a statement.

The company, whose U.S. cement sales account for a majority of its earnings, said adjusted net operating profit rose to $90.2 million for the quarter ended 30 June, from $79.9 million a year earlier.

On a statutory basis however, net profit attributable fell to $86.5 million for the quarter, from $90.6 million a year ago.

Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Stephen Coates

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