20 Aug 2012

Fletcher Building results due on Wednesday

6:51 am on 20 August 2012

Weak Australasian building sectors and asset writedowns are likely to dominate Fletcher Building's earnings result, which is due out on Wednesday.

In February, the group pared back its full-year profit forecast from about $359 million, to between $310 and $340 million.

Since then, Fletcher's has said its laminex business will take a $40 - $50 million hit in restructuring costs and chief executive, Jonathan Ling, will stand down next month.

But it has stuck with its February guidance and analysts are picking the profit will be at the lower end of the range, with an average picking at $313 million for the year to June.

Craigs Investment Partners head of private wealth research Mark Lister says housing activity has declined in Australia and been subdued in New Zealand.

He says there have been some interest rate cuts in Australia, but it's questionable whether that has affected property sales and housing construction at this stage.

In New Zealand the Christchurch rebuild is getting a small amount of momentum, but Mr Lister says there are differing views on whether it has picked up any significant speed.

He says there have been restructuring reviews in different parts of the business such as insulation and laminex and there will be some one-offs that will have a negative effect on the result.

Fletcher's share price has risen 14% to $6.55 since late July, and Mr Lister says financial markets are expecting a hefty jump in coming years, led by Christchurch's reconstruction and a general recovery in building here and in Australia.

While Fletcher Building is expected to show around $315 million for this year's earnings, Mr Lister says that's expected to increase by up to 16% going into next year.

If that's not delivered, he says the share price is likely to weaken.

Mr Lister says new chief executives also often act conservatively and try to lower people's expectations.