UPDATE 1-Cemex sees core profit improving on higher U.S. prices

Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:40am EST

* U.S. construction market expected to pick up

* Cemex shares up 2.64 pct on Thursday

MONTERREY, Mexico Feb 14 (Reuters) - Mexico's Cemex, one of the world's biggest cement makers, said on Thursday it expects to be able to charge higher prices in the United States going forward to boost its core profit.

The company last week said that weak sales in Europe offset a pickup in its U.S. business, leading to a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter loss.

Still, a bright spot of fourth-quarter results was an increase in Cemex's core profit, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA).

The company's EBITDA should continue to rise, to $4.7 billion by 2016, from $2.6 billion in 2012, Chief Executive Lorenzo Zambrano told analysts at the investor day.

That increase in EBITDA will come from an improved U.S. construction market, where the company expects to be able to charge higher prices over the next few years, executives said.

Cemex shares rose 2.64 percent to 13.98 pesos on Thursday. The shares are up 7.5 percent this year through Wednesday.

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