Boral suffers first half $25m loss

Boral has suffered a first half net loss of $25.3 million and says it expects conditions to remain challenging in the building products market.

Boral's net loss for the six months to December 31 compared to a net profit of $153 million in the previous corresponding period.

The latest result was dragged down by $77 million worth of significant items, including impairment charges relating to the suspension of clinker production at Waurn Ponds in Victoria and first half restructuring and redundancy costs.

Those costs were partially offset by a gain on the divestment of the Asian Construction Materials businesses.

The company announced 700 job cuts in January as it reduces costs to deal with a prolonged housing slump.

Boral's underlying net profit before significant items was $52 million.

The company had forecast an underlying profit of about $52 million.

"Conditions will remain challenging for building products in the second half, although the division will benefit from cost reduction and restructuring programs," the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

The company said it expected to deliver a sustained performance in the second half due to major infrastructure and LNG projects, and improved prices.

However, Boral said, this would also depend on improved weather conditions.

Boral's cement volumes in the second half were expected to be flat and prices to remain challenging due to the high Australian dollar and low sea freight charges.

It said conditions would remain difficult for its building products division in the second half, although it would benefit from cost reduction and restructuring programs.

Boral's gypsum division was expected to have better volumes and prices in the Australian plasterboard business for the rest of 2012/13.

Volumes were also expected to improve for Boral gypsum in Vietnam and Korea.

In the US, increased housing starts and product improvements were expected to underpin a lift in volumes in the fourth quarter.

"The second half of FY2013 will be a period of consolidating recent portfolio changes, continuing to deliver on identified immediate priorities, examining further value maximising opportunities within Boral's existing portfolio and leveraging early benefits from recovering markets, particularly in the USA," Boral said.

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