James Hardie is rewarding shareholders with a special dividend after more than doubling its profit as the US housing market picks up.
The building products maker made a net profit of US$286 million in the nine months to December 31, up from US$115 million in the same period a year earlier.
Chief executive Louis Gries said its third quarter results for the company’s fibre cement businesses in the US and Europe continue to reflect increased volumes and higher average sales prices.
“We continue to see improving conditions in the US housing market which led to the volume increases for the quarter and nine months,” he said.
James Hardie is expanding the capacity of its USA and fibre cement businesses amid the boost in US housing starts and rising values.
In Australia, net sales increased in both the third quarter and the nine months to December due to an increase in sales volume which was driven by market growth and a higher average net sales price.
The building products maker declared a special dividend of US28 cents to coincide with the 125th anniversary of the company.
James Hardie has already paid an interim dividend of 8 US cents during its current fiscal year.
The company expects its full year earnings excluding asbestos, asset impairments, ASIC expenses, New Zealand product liability and tax adjustments to be between US$190 million and US$200 million, up from $US141 million in the previous year.
The forecast assumes housing industry conditions in the United States will continue to improve and that the Australian dollar averages 89 US up until March 31.
James Hardie shares were up 83 cents, or 6.1 per cent, at $14.50 at 1447 AEDT.