(Corrects headline and text after company says CEO misspoke. Comments in first and third paragraph refer to industry-wide volumes rather than Cemex alone.)
* CEO Zambrano says debt position “calm”
* Could issue debt to lower costs, but doesn’t “need to”
MONTERREY, March 21 (Reuters) - Mexican cement maker Cemex expects slower cement sales across the industry in the United States, the firm’s top executive said, adding that the company could place debt if it could secure lower financing costs.
Cemex has been struggling to turn around its debt-laden business since the U.S. housing crisis. U.S. sales have been rising as the housing market slowly recovers.
Chief Executive Officer Lorenzo Zambrano said on Thursday that U.S. sales volume growth would be 8 percent this year across the cement industry, hurt by higher taxes and government spending cuts in the United States.
Cemex posted a 14 percent rise in U.S. cement sales volumes in 2012.
Cemex has been burdened with deep debt obligations for the past three years. It was hurt by the 2008 U.S. housing meltdown shortly after paying $16 billion to buy Australian peer Rinker.
“We are in a calm position, we have 34 months where we do not have to make any payments,” Zambrano said. He suggested the company could look to issue new debt if it could get lower interest rates. “But we do not need to do this,” he said.
Cemex recently placed $600 million in debt that it said it would use to pay down some of its other debts.
Cemex’s Mexico traded shares dipped 0.39 percent on Thursday. The stock hit its highest in about 3-1/2 years last week, backed by growing optimism for the U.S. housing market.
The company wrapped up a refinancing package last year that gave it much-needed room to push back looming debt payments for up to four years. (Reporting by Gabriela Lopez; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Bob Burgdorfer)