By Elinor Comlay and Gabriela Lopez
MEXICO CITY/MONTERREY Oct 24 Mexico's Cemex,
one of the world's biggest cement companies, reported a
wider-than-expected quarterly loss on Thursday as taxes
increased, but sales picked up, especially in the United States,
sparking a nearly 4 percent jump in its shares.
The company , which has struggled amid the
global economic downturn and a heavy debt load from costly
acquisitions, said U.S. cement sales rose 8 percent, and were
also higher in Europe, Asia and most of Latin America.
Cemex shares rose nearly 4 percent to 14.23 pesos in local
trading and jumped 3.6 percent in U.S. trading.
Slower spending by the Mexican government on infrastructure
projects put a slight damper on the results, with Cemex
reporting a double-digit drop in sales.
Still, the company said Mexico was starting to pick up.
"It will improve, it has already started improving and we
expect it will continue to improve in 2014," Fernando Gonzalez,
executive vice president of finance and administration, said on
a call with analysts.
Todd Vencil, an analyst at Sterne Agee, said the company
missed his expectations due to a drop in Mexican sales.
"But given the recent pullback in the stock, we suspect that
(the miss) was priced in," he said in an early report.
Through Wednesday's close, Cemex shares had fallen almost 10
percent since the end of August.
Cemex posted a third-quarter loss of $155 million, compared
with the average analyst estimate of a loss of $22 million,
according to a Reuters survey.
The Monterrey-based company lost $203 million in the
year-earlier third quarter.
Cemex's income tax payment increased by 12 percent from a
year earlier, but executives told analysts on the call they
expected tax payments for this year to be only slightly higher
than the previous year.
Net sales rose 3 percent to $4.02 billion, while analysts
expected $4.05 billion.
The residential sector drove the higher U.S. sales, Cemex
said, adding it was "sustained by strong fundamentals such as
high affordability, large pent-up demand and low levels of
Sales in Northern Europe, dampened in recent quarters by
sluggish economic growth, rose 6 percent, while results in
Southern Europe, Asia and the rest of Latin America were also
Operating core profit, or earnings before interest, taxes,
depreciation and amortization, increased 2 percent to $747
million from $735 million a year earlier.