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Weak US Housing Market Weighs on James Hardie, Boral
Reuters | February 27, 2012 | 06:20 PM EST

Australian building products maker James Hardie Industries posted third-quarter profit below forecasts and gave a downbeat outlook, saying there were few signs of sustainable recovery in the key U.S. housing market.

James Hardie, which earns two-thirds of revenue in the United States and Europe, said its net operating profit for the three months to Dec. 31, excluding asbestos and tax adjustments, rose 32 percent to $27.7 million from $21 million, helped by increased market share, efficiency gains and cost-cutting.

That was below analyst forecasts of $31.7 million, according to a Reuters survey of three analysts.

The group affirmed its earnings guidance for the year in the range of $130 million to $140 million.

In Australia, the housing market remained weak despite official cuts in interest rates and a near-term pick-up in construction was not anticipated, the company said.

"Overall demand in the U.S. residential housing construction market is still relatively subdued and there remains little evidence that a sustainable recovery is underway," James Hardie said in a statement.

Including asbestos-related expenses and tax adjustments, James Hardie said its net operating loss narrowed to $4.8 million in the third quarter from $26.4 million a year earlier.

Boral Slides

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