UPDATE 4-Cemex sees weaker volumes, eyes Colombia listing soon

Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:25pm EDT

* Company sees weaker 2012 cement volumes

* Narrows quarterly loss, revenues fall 2 pct

* Unit listing in Colombia could happen soon

* Staff cuts seen through December 2013

By Cyntia Barrera and Gabriela Lopez

MEXICO CITY, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Cemex, Mexico's leading cement maker, anticipated on Monday weaker consolidated volumes for the year hurt by Europe's tepid performance and said the listing of one of its units in the Colombian market could happen soon.

Cemex, which also posted on Monday a narrower quarterly loss helped by stronger results at its key Mexican and U.S. markets and gains on financial instruments, sees 2012 consolidated cement volumes down by 1 percent, compared to a previous view of 1 percent growth.

Ready-mix and aggregates volumes may fall by 2 percent this year, the company said.

The company, which has been in the red for 12 consecutive quarters, said it lost $203 million in the July-September period, compared with a $730 million loss in the same quarter of 2011.

Results were weaker than market estimates. According to a Reuters poll, analysts, on average, looked for a third-quarter net loss of $16 million.

The company also said it is slashing 2.5 percent of its global staff of around 45,000 workers to cut costs. The move is linked to a July deal with IBM under which the U.S. company will hire 450 of those workers while the remaining 675 will be fired.

Cemex was hurt by the 2008 U.S. housing meltdown shortly after paying out $16 billion to buy Australian peer Rinker. It has been digging out of deep debt obligations for the past three years.

It recently wrapped up a $7.2 billion refinancing package that gave it much-needed room to push back looming debt payments for up to four years The umbrella deal also included a debt swap, a $1 billion prepayment and revised financial covenants.

Two weeks ago, the company also completed a $1.5 billion sale of 10-year notes amid heavy demand from investors, signaling the market is more at ease with its steps to regain financial health.

COLOMBIA IS A GO

As part of the steps taken by the Monterrey-based company to raise cash, it plans to list its Cemex Latam Holdings unit in the Colombian stock market.

"This past week, we made significant progress and expect to receive authorization for this transaction soon," said Fernando Gonzalez, executive vice president of finance and administration.

According to Gonzalez, it is just a matter of the Colombian authorities signing on the deal to move ahead with the listing, which is expected to raise at least $750 million.

Separately, Cemex said it continues to evaluate more asset sales but Fernandez declined details. In the past, the company has unloaded quarries and ponds for sport fishing for quick cash without hurting its core operations in more than 50 countries.

Cemex's third-quarter consolidated net sales dropped 2 percent to $3.9 billion from $3.98 billion. Adjusting for investments and currency fluctuations, sales rose 2 percent.

Higher sales in Mexico, the United States, South and Central America and the Caribbean partially offset revenue declines in Europe and the Mediterranean.

"An improvement in pricing and volume in several of our regions as well as the continued success of our transformation effort has led to the highest operating EBITDA margin in three years," Fernando Gonzalez, executive vice president of finance and administration, said in a release.

Cemex's operating earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 9 percent to $730 million.

Cemex shares rose 0.62 percent to 11.43 pesos Monday noon while its New York-traded stock gained 0.79 percent to $8.90.

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