(Adds CEO comments, details)
May 18 (Reuters) - James Hardie Industries Plc, the world's top fiber cement building materials maker, reported a 13 percent rise in full-year net profit on Thursday as a reduction in compensation payouts for asbestos diseases boosted the bottom line.
Net profit for the year ended March 31 came in at $276.5 million, compared with $244.4 million a year ago, as the company benefited from a $38.6 million boost on reduced compensation payouts.
The result beat the $231.96 million mean estimate of seven analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Adjusted net profit, excluding the reduced compensation payout, of $248.6 million was just under the mid-range of the company's forecast of $245 million to $255 million.
Full-year sales grew 11 percent to $1.92 billion from $1.73 billion a year ago, largely on the back of strong volume sales in its fiber cement business in North America, where James Hardie makes four-fifths of its sales.
However, it also booked increased manufacturing costs due to an increase in its North America manufacturing capacity.
"Improving the performance of our North America manufacturing network remains a key focus for the business going forward," James Hardie CEO Louis Gries said in a statement.
Fourth quarter net profit rose nearly 55 percent to $44.5 million from $28.8 million a year ago.
The company said it expected the "modest market growth and more prolonged recovery of the U.S. housing market to continue into fiscal year 2018."
It reiterated a forecast from February that its North America Fiber Cement segment expects an earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) margin of 20 percent to 25 percent.
The Australian company had slashed its full-year adjusted net profit forecast in its third-quarter results announcement in February, warning of uncertainty in the U.S. housing market. (Reporting By Rushil Dutta and Tom Westbrook. Editing by Jane Wardell and Richard Pullin)