UPDATE 1-Cemex says US business good but far from full recovery

Thu Nov 8, 2012 5:56pm EST

MEXICO CITY Nov 8 (Reuters) - Mexico's top cement maker Cemex said on Thursday that it was pleased with the way its U.S. business was evolving but acknowledged it is still far from fully recovering.

"We are cautious and we are far from a full recovery in the U.S. business but the trend is certainly in the right direction," Maher Al-Haffar, Cemex's vice president of corporate communications and investor relations, said in an interview.

One of the world's biggest cement companies, Cemex was hard-hit by the collapse of the U.S. housing market soon after paying about $16 billion to buy Australian peer Rinker. It has been working its way out of debt obligations for the past three years.

The company, which 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, said it expects its U.S. business to post positive operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) this year.

"The U.S. is making a very nice come back: volumes are growing nicely, prices are growing nicely, and hopefully we will not have a double dip as a consequence of politicians not being able to deal with the fiscal cliff," Al-Haffar said.

"Fiscal cliff" refers to a combination of U.S. government spendng cuts and tax rises due to be implemented under existing law in early 2013 that might tip the economy back into recession

Cemex forecast last month weaker consolidated volumes for 2012 hurt by Europe's tepid performance.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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