* Net operating profit $43.7 mln vs $26.7 mln year ago
* Pays special dividend of $0.28
* U.S. housing market improving but "volatile"
SYDNEY, Feb 28 James Hardie Industries Plc
, the world's biggest fibre cement products maker, said
on Friday it would pay a special dividend to investors as it
booked a 64 percent rise in third-quarter profit thanks to the
stronger U.S. housing market.
The dual Australia and U.S.-listed company, which earns
two-thirds of its revenue in the United States and Europe, said
it benefited from an 11 percent rise in U.S. housing starts in
the three months to December 31, compared with the previous
Net operating profit of $43.7 million for the quarter
compared with $26.7 million the previous year. Net operating
profit excludes charges for a compensation fund set up to pay
asbestos claims, asset impairments and regulatory charges.
The company said the improving housing market and its strong
market position pushed up quarterly sales by 17 percent. But it
warned "market conditions remain somewhat uncertain and some
input costs remain volatile".
Still, it said it expected full-year net operating profit in
the $190-$200 million range, in line with analysts' forecasts.
The company said it would pay a special dividend of $0.28
per share, on top of the $0.08 interim dividend it announced in
James Hardie's Australian-listed shares were up 5 percent in
early trading, having risen 58 percent in the past year as the
company reported a gradual improvement in the housing market.