UPDATE 4-Cemex says weak Europe offsets U.S. construction pickup

jueves 7 de febrero de 2013 18:53 CET

* Q4 2012 loss $489 mln vs Q4 2011 loss $761 mln

* Revenue flat compared with year-earlier quarter

* Shares down 3.8 percent

By Elinor Comlay and Gabriela Lopez

MEXICO CITY/MONTERREY, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Mexico's Cemex, the giant cement company that has been struggling to turn around its debt-laden business since the U.S. housing crisis, said weak sales in Europe offset a pickup in its U.S. business and led it to report a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter loss.

Cemex said that although revenue from its hard-hit U.S. unit increased 11 percent, cement sales in northern Europe and the Mediterranean region fell 8 percent and the company's total revenue was flat compared with the year-earlier quarter at $3.71 billion.

The Monterrey-based company's shares fell 3.8 percent to 13.28 pesos after it reported on Thursday a loss of $489 million in the fourth quarter, compared with $761 million a year earlier. Analysts on average expected a loss of $47 million, according to a Reuters survey.

The company's sales in Mexico, where it dominates the cement market, were also a little lower than expected, analysts noted. That may be a result of last year's presidential election and change in administration that has slowed infrastructure projects.

Still, Cemex reported a pickup in operating income and core profit, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), that confirmed the company was turning around, analysts said.   Continuación...