* Q4 operating EBITDA 43.9 mln euros vs poll average 40.4
* Expects 2013 EBITDA of about 280 mln euros vs 246 mln in
* Keeps dividend at 12 cents per share
* Shares fall 3.3 percent
(Releads on loss, adds shares, analyst comment)
By Angelika Gruber and Georgina Prodhan
VIENNA, Feb 26 Wienerberger, the
world's biggest brickmaker, posted an unexpected net loss for
2012 on Tuesday because of high restructuring costs for its
struggling European bricks business.
Shares in the Austrian company fell more than 4 percent
despite a forecast for rising core profit this year in the
expectation that its strong pipes business, improved earnings in
North America and cost savings will offset a weak European
Chief Executive Heimo Schuech said that it is difficult to
forecast market conditions in Europe, but he expects slight
weakness in the demand for building materials.
An economic slowdown compounded by governmental austerity
measures in Europe have led to a sharp decline in construction
projects on the continent, where Wienerberger still makes more
than 90 percent of its sales.
The company reported that a 43 million euro hit from its
restructuring programme sent it to a net loss of 40 million
euros ($53 million) for 2012, against an average forecast for a
6 million euro profit in a Reuters poll of seven analysts.
"From today's perspective ... I assume that we will get by
with these measures," Scheuch told journalists when asked about
possible additional restructuring costs this year.
Erste Group Bank analyst Franz Hoerl, however, expressed
concern that there could be more costs to come, adding: "It's
still a long way until the end of 2013."
Wienerberger shares were down 3.3 percent at 7.39 euros by
0926 GMT, off a low of 7.26 euros, underperforming a fall of 1.4
percent in the European construction index amid a global
sell-off on Italy's inconclusive election result and its
potential impact on the euro zone financial crisis.
The company said that the restructuring measures, aimed at
producing annual cost savings of 50 million euros by the end of
2014, saved 14 million euros last year.
It proposed keeping its dividend at 12 cents per share
despite the loss, citing its ability to generate strong cash
flow. Analysts had expected a payout of 7 cents.
Fourth-quarter operating earnings before interest, tax,
depreciation and amortisation rose 10 percent to 43.9 million
euros, beating the average poll estimate of 40.4 million euros
and bringing the 2012 total to 246 million euros.
The company expects a 14 percent gain in core profit this
year to about 280 million euros, slightly below analysts'
forecasts, and a net profit for 2013.
($1 = 0.7567 euros)
(Additional reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Mike
Nesbit and David Goodman)