Housing Activity Drives Hardie’s Fiber Cement Plant Outlays

Pointing to U.S. home building market improvement, James Hardie management confirmed new machinery installations at three operations specializing in the company’s flagship HardiePlank and other fiber cement siding products.

A $34 million, Fontana, Calif., plant overhaul – adding 300 million sq. ft. of siding capacity – is pacing an early-2014 completion. The new year will also usher installation of a) a fourth siding sheet machine and ancillary facilities at the Plant City, Fla., operation, valued at $65 million and netting 240 million sq. ft. of new capacity; and, b) a third siding sheet machine and ancillary facilities at the Cleburne, Texas, site, the $37 million investment equating to 200 million sq. ft. of additional output. The Florida and Texas plant projects are scheduled for mid-2015 completion.

Reviewing the second quarter of James Hardie’s 2014 fiscal year, CEO Louis Gries notes, “Results for our U.S. and European business reflect increased volumes and a 25 percent increase in net sales revenue, capitalizing on the continued improvement in U.S. housing market conditions relative to last year.” Significant investment last year in organizational capability, timed in expectation of U.S. market growth, he adds, is reflected in EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) margins reaching 22 percent – within management’s target range.

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