Adelaide Brighton expects sector recovery

Cement maker Adelaide Brighton expects a slow recovery in residential building to offset any slowdown in mining construction.

The group posted a record net profit of $154.1 million for the year to December 31, up 3.8 per cent from $148.4 million during calendar 2011.

The company's full year earnings rose as mining and resources projects in South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory more than offset residential construction weakness.

Chief executive Mark Chellew said a pick-up in residential construction would compensate for any moderation in mining infrastructure activity during the next three years.

"We think residential construction is definitely at the bottom," he told reporters during a conference call on Thursday.

"There will be a long, slow increase in Australia of maybe two or three per cent ... that will probably nearly offset the decline in mining volumes, which will happen come 2015, 2016."

Adelaide Brighton blamed the carbon tax for putting a $3 million dent in 2012 earnings and increasing energy costs by eight per cent.

Mr Chellew said that even if federal Labor won the 2013 election, the carbon tax would be less of a financial burden as it moved from a fixed price of $23 a tonne to a floating price.

"The carbon price is going to drop to $4 or $5 in three years' time, so it's probably going to become largely irrelevant to us," he said.

Mr Chellew said he expected the carbon tax to cost $7 million in 2013 and $8 million in 2014, before falling to $1 million by 2016.

The company said the high Australian dollar had enabled it to more economically import clinker, cement and blast-furnace slag.

"Our base case is it will stay roughly the same where it is for the next two years," Mr Chellew said of the currency holding above parity with the US dollar.

Reliability issues at the firm's Birkenhead plant in South Australia caused clinker production to fall by 80,000 tonnes and hit pre-tax earnings by $6 million, following a longer than anticipated maintenance shutdown in August and September.

A fully franked dividend of 16.5 cents a share was unchanged from the previous year.

Shares in Adelaide Brighton rose 2.13 per cent, or seven cents, to $3.35 at 1227 AEDT.

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