James Hardie half year net profit down

Bluiding materials maker James Hardie has reported a 35 per cent net profit decrease for the half-year to September 30, but sees encouraging signs in the US housing market.

AAP reports that Hardie’s net profit was $US83.5 million, compared to $US 128.4 million for the same period last year. Its forecasts suggest a slight increase in net operating profit for the whole year.

Payments to victims of Hardie’s asbestos, made more expensive by the strong Australian dollar, have affected results.

CEO Louis Gries believes that the US housing market is undergoing a recovery. Three quarters of Hardie’s earnings are made in the US market, and they have been banking on an increase in popularity in fibre cement there.

The company was established in Melbourne 124 years ago, but is currently based in Ireland.