RPT-James Hardie cuts earnings forecast amid U.S. housing uncertainty

Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:50pm EST

SYDNEY Feb 27 (Reuters) - Australian building materials group James Hardie on Wednesday cut its forecast for full-year earnings due to uncertain housing market conditions in the United States, after reporting a 3 percent rise in its third-quarter net profit.

James Hardie, the world's largest manufacturer of fibre cement products, revised its earnings forecast to a range of $136 million to $141 million for the year ending March, compared to its 2012 full-year profit of $142.8 million.

It had said in November it expected its 2013 profit to come in a range from $140 million to $150 million

"Management cautions that housing market conditions remain uncertain and some input costs remain volatile," the company said in a statement.

The company, which earns two-thirds of its revenue in the United States and Europe, saw its shares rise 0.9 percent to A$9.44 in volatile mid-morning trade.

James Hardie posted a $28.8 million net operating profit, excluding asbestos and tax adjustments, for the three months to December 2012, compared with $28.0 million a year ago.

The result was below the average forecast of $32.4 by three analysts, according to Thomson Reuters data.

James Hardie's results came after the U.S. Commerce Department said sales of new U.S. single-family homes jumped 15.6 percent to a 4-1/2 year high in January, raising hopes that the U.S. housing market was recovering.

On Tuesday, the world's largest home improvement chain Home Depot Inc posted better-than-expected earnings, helped by a recovering housing market.

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