* Demand for notes approached $5 billion before books closed
* Company recently wrapped up refinancing with lenders
* Shares jump to 20-month highs (Rewrites first paragraph, adds details on notes)
MEXICO CITY, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Mexican cement maker Cemex is selling $1.5 billion in 10-year notes amid heavy demand from investors on Thursday, marking its return to debt markets and helping to send its shares to 20-month highs.
The stock also benefited from the Monterrey-based company’s first financial forecast since February 2009.
Demand for Cemex’s notes approached $5 billion before books closed, according to IFR. The pricing is expected later on Thursday.
Fitch agency rated the notes “B+” with a stable outlook.
“Fitch expects Cemex’s leverage to remain high through the end of 2014,” the agency wrote in a report. “A recovery of the company’s U.S. operations is crucial to generating free cash flow in excess of $1 billion annually and lowering leverage.”
Cemex said it expected third-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to show a rise of 9 percent from a year earlier in dollar terms. It forecast a 2 percent decline in quarterly sales.
The company recently wrapped up a $7.2 billion refinancing that gave it much-needed room to push back looming debt payments for up to four years.
Cemex was swamped by the 2008 U.S. housing meltdown shortly after paying out $16 billion to buy Australian peer Rinker. It has been working its way out of deep debt obligations for the past three years.
As part of the refinancing agreement with lenders, the company, which has operations in more than 50 countries, swapped debt and has committed to pay down $1 billion in March 2013. It also revised some financial covenants.
Cemex plans to report full quarterly results later this month.
Shares of Cemex rose 4.5 percent to 11.43 pesos in Mexico, while its New York-traded stock gained 5.0 percent to $8.99.
Cemex is close to listing its Cemex Latam Holdings unit in Colombia, a deal that could bring in $750 million to $1 billion to help it meet a debt payment next March. (Reporting By Cyntia Barrera, Additional reporting by Gabriela Lopez and Michael O‘Boyle; Editing by John Wallace, Leslie Gevirtz and Lisa Von Ahn)