Cemex SAB de CV (ADR) (CX), James Hardie Industries plc (ADR) (JHX), CRH PLC (ADR) (CRH): Are These Cement Companies Investment-Worthy?

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3 Commodities For A Housing RecoveryAs per a report from the Portland Cement Association, it is estimated that the U.S. cement industry will grow by 6.2% in the current year, up from 6% in 2012. Estimated annual consumption growth of cement will be around 11.1% for 2015-2017. Increase in cement consumption was fueled by growing construction activities in the U.S. However, Europe is facing a slump in construction activities this year due to a lack of investments in the real estate sector and weakening European economies. Let’s look at how three companies handle the economic changes affecting their industry.

Growing U.S. market

Specialty cement is used in the construction of oil wells, and increasing well construction is fueling the demand for these cement products in the U.S. To take advantage of this, Cemex SAB de CV (ADR) (NYSE:CX) recently announced the expansion of its cement plant in Texas. The plant’s production capacity will increase to 900,000 metric tons, from 350,000 metric ton currently. The company will spend around $87.5 million and one year on this expansion. Increasing production capacity will help the company to keep pace with the growing demand. Cemex SAB de CV (ADR) (NYSE:CX)’s net income will increase to $139 million in 2014, a drastic change from the loss of $904 million last year.

Recovery in the U.S. housing market is favorable for Cemex SAB de CV (ADR) (NYSE:CX), as it is one of the largest producers of cement in the U.S. It is estimated that cement consumption will increase from 81.2 million metric tons in 2012, to 88.2 million metric tons by the end of this year. To ensure the growth of the housing market, the U.S. government is also supporting residential home projects in the country by providing subsidies. Looking at the positive moves of the government and improving housing market, sales for the company are expected to surge from $3.03 billion in 2012 to $3.37 billion in the current fiscal year.

Plant upgrades

In the quarter ended in March 2013, revenue of James Hardie Industries plc (ADR) (NYSE:JHX) increased to $326.8 million, up by 5.7%, year-over-year. The growth of the company was driven by increasing sales volume in the U.S. and Asia Pacific. With this, its cost of sales was also increased 5.3%, from $213 million to $225 million in the same period, year-over-year. James Hardie Industries plc (ADR) (NYSE:JHX) is expecting growth in the U.S. housing market this year, and to capitalize on the opportunity, it made investments for plant upgrades and refurbishments of idled equipment. The company is also expecting sales to rise in its repair and remodel segment, which caters to repairing homes and upgrading parts of constructed buildings. It is expected that the company will earn around $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2014, up by 7%, year-over-year.

The Ministry of Education in New Zealand filed a lawsuit against two subsidiaries of James Hardie Industries plc (ADR) (NYSE:JHX) in April 2013. The claim is related to defective wall cladding in 300 school buildings built by the company. The company is facing allegations of weather tightness defects. It is expected that the claims will be settled out of court. The lawsuit filed by the ministry is for $1.5 billion, and any adverse decision from the court will impact the brand image of James Hardie Industries plc (ADR) (NYSE:JHX).

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