22 Feb 2012

Fletcher announces 13% profit fall

8:11 pm on 22 February 2012

Fletcher Building has posted a 13% fall in half-year profits and cut its full-year forecast due to weak building activity in key markets.

The country's largest listed company says net profit for the six months to December was $144 million, compared with $166 million the previous year.

The profit is lower than forecasts issued in November, when the company warned a construction slowdown had eaten into first half earnings and it expected a six-month profit of around $150 million.

The company, which has interests in building products and is the world biggest laminates maker, says it expects a full year profit to be between $310 - $340 million. Last November it had issued guidance of a profit of about $359 million.

Chief executive Jonathan Ling says the company has been hurt by weak construction activity in New Zealand, particularly new housing with approvals in 2011 at the lowest level in 46 years.

He says Australia was already slowing at the start of the year, and there has been a pronounced decline in new residential construction there over the past six months.

A restructuring of the company's Laminex business cost $21 million in the first six months and is expected to cost up to 50 million more in the second half.

The company declared an interim dividend of 17 cents a share compared with 16 cents last year.

Shares in Fletcher Building fell 14 cents to $6.50 on Wednesday.