April 25, 2019 / 10:48 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 2-Mexico's Cemex nearly doubles profit but falls short of expectations

(Adds details from results, statement from chief executive)

April 25 (Reuters) - Mexican cement producer Cemex SAB de CV on Thursday said that it had nearly doubled its profit during the first quarter but still fell short of analysts’ expectations, hurt by lower volumes in Mexico and the United States.

Sales in Mexico fell 8 percent to $706 million and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) declined by 14 percent to $255 million during the first quarter ended March, the company said.

U.S. sales rose 3 percent to $878 million but EBITDA fell 1 percent to $130 million.

Nevertheless, the company improved pricing in all regions during the quarter, Cemex Chief Executive Fernando Gonzalez said in a statement.

“We are pleased with the 1 percent top-line growth we achieved during the first quarter, despite important volume declines in our two most important markets: Mexico and the U.S.,” he said.

The company, which operates in more than 50 countries, saw net sales decline by 8 percent at home in Mexico during the quarter.

Monterrey-based Cemex has been waging a campaign to cut costs and divest to regain its investment-grade rating.

In February, the company said it would sell some of its European facilities and businesses to German building company Schwenk for about $385 million.

Net profit rose to $39 million in the quarter, from $20 million a year earlier, while total net sales increased 1 percent to $3.2 billion.

Analysts on average had expected net profit to more than double to $67 million, according to a Reuters poll. (Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Julia Love in Mexico City Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Bill Trott)

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