James Hardie profit up but no dividends

Building products manufacturer James Hardie has declined to provide an annual guidance but expects margins in its key North America business to stay resilient despite the coronavirus-related disruptions.

The company reported a 6.0 per cent increase in full-year profit to $US241.5 million ($A370.9 million).

Its net operating profit for the year to March 31, which strips out asbestos liabilities, rose 17 per cent to $US352.8 million.

Earlier this month, it announced a suspension in dividend payments due to the market volatility on account of the pandemic and tightened its operating profit guidance to between $US350 million and $US355 million.

But its operations did not seem much affected in the March quarter, with improved performance across the North American operations resulting in 11 per cent volume growth in the exterior business and 5.0 per cent in the interior business.

Europe Building Products segment delivered 7.0 per cent revenue growth while Asia Pacific also saw revenue improve 2.0 per cent.

“Our performance in March was exceptionally strong despite the highly volatile market environment in which we operated. We supplied our customers seamlessly around the world, growing revenue by double digits in each region we operate in,” chief executive Jack Truong said.

Net sales for the full year were up 4.0 per cent to $US2.61 billion.

James Hardie declined to issue a full-year guidance, given the highly volatile and uncertain circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on demand in various countries.

However, it expects margins at its main North American business to range between 22 per cent and 27 per cent for the first quarter of 2020/21.

Earnings margin at the business during the March quarter stood at 25.3 per cent.

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