Australia's James Hardie Q2 profit falls 16 pct

SYDNEY Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:05pm EST

SYDNEY Nov 15 (Reuters) - Australian building materials group James Hardie Industries Ltd said its second-quarter net profit fell a sharper-than-expected 16 percent due to the impact of liability claims.

The world's largest maker of cement products said on Thursday the outlook for the United States was encouraging, although there was uncertainty about how the housing industry would deal with tight credit conditions and high unemployment.

It expected to report profit of $140 million-$150 million for the year ending March, at the low end of a previously projected range of $140 million-$160 million.

Net operating profit, before asbestos and tax adjustments, was $34.8 million, 16 percent lower than a year ago and below the $38.4 million average forecast in a Reuters poll of five analysts.

Estimates had ranged from as low as $21 million to as high as $48 million.

James Hardie announced an interim dividend of 5 cents per share for the first half, higher than 4 cents a year earlier.

The company earns two-thirds of its revenue in the United States and Europe.

Shares in the company, which are listed on the New York Stock Exchange, closed at $46.50 on Wednesday, pulling back from a multi-year high of $48.55 last week.

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