October 25, 2018 / 12:29 PM / 19 days ago

UPDATE 2-Shares in Mexico's Cemex surge after third-quarter results

(Recasts with shares, conference call)

Oct 25 (Reuters) - Mexico’s Cemex on Thursday reported higher third-quarter revenue, raised its expectation for U.S. concrete sales and said it had cut its debt, sending the cement company’s battered shares up almost 5 percent.

Cemex’s net sales grew 8 percent to $3.7 billion in the quarter when adjusted for exchange rate fluctuations and asset sales, beating analyst expectations.

The Monterrey-based company, one of the world’s largest cement producers, said it reduced its total debt by $254 million in the period.

On a conference call, Cemex executives said they had raised their expectations for U.S. concrete sales and for Mexican aggregates for this year.

Cemex shares rose almost 7 percent before paring gains to trade up 4.5 percent on Thursday. The stock has lost about 25 percent of its value so far this year.

In July, the company said it would return money to shareholders through an annual cash dividend, starting with $150 million in 2019. It also announced cost cuts and asset sales to help it meet investment grade metrics faster.

Net profit in the third quarter slumped 40 percent to $174 million, missing analyst expectations, hurt by a lower financial gain, foreign exchange fluctuations and higher income tax.

Analysts had expected net profit of around $222 million, according to a Reuters poll.

In the quarter, Cemex saw an exchange rate loss of $21 million due to volatility in the Mexican peso against the dollar. Taxes on profit were $85 million.

The company recently announced it was restructuring its unit in Spain and plans to close two of its seven plants there.

Mexico will vote this week to decide the fate of a new partly built airport in Mexico City that is projected to cost $14.6 billion. Cemex executives said on the call they did not expect a significant impact on Mexican cement volumes if the construction were canceled. (Reporting by Noe Torres and Sheky Espejo in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Writing by Christine Murray; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Paul Simao)

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