* Posts H1 pretax loss of $2.11 million
* FY earning seen down at least 25 percent from pvs yr
* Intense competition a worry
NAIROBI, March 1 (Reuters) - Kenya’s No. 2 cement maker, East African Portland Cement, warned it faces a full-year loss after reporting a first-half loss of 175.4 million shillings ($2.11 million) on high production costs and mounting competition.
The company, which was temporarily shut down due to boardroom wrangles in January that affected its production, said competition is expected to intensify and earnings for the year will be at least 25 percent less than the previous year.
To cope with the harsh outlook, East African Portland Cement (EA Portland) would launch a recovery strategy to restore long-term growth and take advantage of demand for cement in the country and the region which it said was strong.
The company, which did not pay an interim dividend, had posted a profit of 254 million shillings a year earlier.
The Capital Markets Authority banned trading of its shares for 60 days from Jan 17 after the boardroom row.
“The competition is expanding into the region and Portland Cement has been left behind,” said Eva Njuguna, an analyst at Sterling Investment.
“They are also likely to miss out on major government projects due to their lengthy procurement process, the future is bleak for them.”
The cement maker has a lengthy tendering process because it has to follow bureaucratic procedures adopted by the government, which has a minority stake in the company.
Gross margins fell due to the increased production costs, mainly resulting from the rising cost of electricity, packaging materials and the unfavourable movements in the foreign currency exchange rates, the company said in a statement.
The cost savings from a new coal-firing facility were offset by the increase in the foregoing costs, it added.
Revenue fell by 5.5 percent to 4.95 billion shillings, while administration and selling expenses also increased.
The company posted a loss per share of 0.98 shillings compared with earnings per share of 8.81 shillings previously. ($1=83.1000 Kenyan shillings) (Reporting by Beatrice Gachenge; Editing by James Macharia and Mike Nesbit)