February 9, 2017 / 6:21 PM / a year ago

Mexico's Cemex profit beats expectations in fourth quarter

(Reuters) - Mexican cement producer Cemex reported a 48 percent jump in fourth-quarter net profit, beating expectations, on increased demand in Mexico, and it forecast sales volume growth of up to 3 percent in 2017.

Cemex (CMXCPO.MX) (CX.N) said on Thursday that net income rose to $214 million from $144 million a year earlier. Analysts in a Reuters poll were expecting $185 million.

Net sales fell 4 percent to $3.19 billion, just below the $3.33 billion expected from the poll.

In a call with journalists, Chief Executive Officer Fernando Gonzalez said the company expected capital expenditures of $730 million in 2017, and growth in cement and concrete volumes of 1 percent to 3 percent.

Sales in Mexico, Cemex’s biggest market by profit, rose 4 percent to $701 million, while cement volumes grew by 7 percent.

The company is still divesting assets to help cut its debt in hopes of regaining an investment-grade rating.

Cemex’s shares have rallied since Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president, partly on hopes that the company could benefit from his plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    Gonzalez declined to comment on the call on whether Cemex would supply the wall.

    In January, Cemex sold a concrete tubing unit for $500 million.

    The company is also forging ahead with the sale of its 23 percent stake in Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua (GCC.MX) through a secondary share offering that could raise more than $400 million.

    Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru and Noe Torres in Mexico City; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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