May 9, 2018 / 10:32 AM / in a year

UPDATE 1-Brickmaker Wienerberger upbeat on earnings as it streamlines business

* CEO very optimistic for full year target

* Not cost-effective sites to be shut

* Plans to sell further assets

* Confirms 2018 targets (Adds details, outlook, CEO)

VIENNA, May 9 (Reuters) - Wienerberger expects to meet its full-year earnings after reporting strong demand from Eastern Europe, and said it plans to shut less cost-efficient sites and restructure its ceramic pipe operations, its chief executive said.

Chief Executive Heimo Scheuch said he was “very optimistic” the Austrian brickmaker could reach its full-year target for adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of between 450 and 470 million euros ($533 million - $557 million).

Last year’s EBITDA was 415 million euros.

The world’s largest brickmaker, which generates 90 percent of its sales in Europe, reported an adjusted EBITDA of 59.7 million euros for the first quarter, up from 46.1 million a year ago.

While Wienerberger benefitted from strong demand for its building materials in Eastern Europe, brick sales in its key markets Germany and Austria have not risen as expected due to fewer single-family houses being built, Scheuch told Reuters.

The company will shut down sites to address this issue, the CEO said, without giving a number of how many sites might be closed.

“We will exit older locations which are not cost-efficient,” the CEO said, adding that he expects Wienerberger’s number of plants to increase in the long term as it also bought new sites.

The group has a 2018 acquisition budget of 200 million euros and it hopes to cash in 100 million euros via selling non-performing assets.

“We will sell assets from all divsions... We are in negotiations with interested parties,” Scheuch said, when asked which assets he wanted to sell and whether there were talks ongoing. ($1 = 0.8452 euros) (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath and Louise Heavens)

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