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Housing activity drives Hardie’s $135 million in fiber cement plant outlays

Sources: James Hardie Industries Plc, Dublin; CP staff

Pointing to U.S. home building market improvement, James Hardie management confirms in recent investor guidance progress on 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 square feet 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, east of Tampa, valued at $65 million and netting 240 million square feet 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 square feet 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.