17 Feb 2010

Sales, profit down at Fletcher Building

5:12 pm on 17 February 2010

New Zealand's biggest construction company says sales and profit for the last six months of 2009 fell by 10% compared with the coresponding period the year before.

Fletcher Building, which is also the largest listed company, says total sales fell from $3.8billion to $3.3 billion in the first half, while after-tax profit fell to $154 million.

Shares in Fletcher were up 26 cents, or 3.4%, to $7.90 afterwards. The results were better than expected, as analysts had forecast profit to fall by nearly a quarter to about 134 million.

Double-digit declines in steel, distribution and concrete sales, were partly offset by stronger insulation sales and construction revenues.

Fletcher Building ghief executive Jonathan Ling says overall, the company has achieved a solid result.

Restructuring and better inventory management improved the cashflow from operations by more than half, which allowed the company to reduce some of its debt.

The company reduced staffl numbers by a further 500 during the period, taking the total reduction to more than 3000 over the past 18 months.

Fletcher Building will pay an interim dividend of 14 cents per share.