July 27, 2020 / 2:51 PM / in 16 days

UPDATE 3-Mexico's Cemex posts $44 mln loss after coronavirus lockdowns

(Adds results from subsidiary Cemex Latam Holdings)

By Laura Gottesdiener

MONTERREY, July 27 (Reuters) - Mexican cement producer Cemex on Monday reported a $44 million loss for the second quarter after sales plummeted across most of its markets due to coronavirus-related lockdowns.

The loss, a sharp reversal from Cemex’s $155 million profit during the year-ago period, was driven by a quarter in which the company was hobbled by restrictions in markets ranging from Mexico to the Middle East.

“We expect that COVID-19 will continue to challenge our operations in new ways over the next few quarters,” Chief Executive Officer Fernando González said.

The company’s sales declined between 10% and 30% across most of its markets, except in the United States, where it reported $1 billion in net sales, an increase of 1% over the same period last year.

“The United States continued to enjoy strong demand momentum in the second quarter driven by the infrastructure and residential sectors,” the company said in its second quarter earnings report.

Other markets including Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America all saw declines in sales driven by coronavirus-related government restrictions, including industry shutdowns in Colombia, Panama and Trinidad and the two-month closure of a plant in the Philippines.

Subsidiary Cemex Latam Holdings (CLH) reported a second-quarter profit of $11 million, versus a loss of $4 million in the year-earlier period, after benefiting positively from foreign exchange rates and higher cement prices in Colombia, its main market.

CLH said in a filing with Colombia’s financial regulator that sales fell 41% to $148 million in the second quarter.

Monterrey-based Cemex, which operates in more than 50 countries, said earlier this year it was delaying capital expenditure and cutting a percentage of employees’ salaries or allowances for a period of three months to reduce costs amid the coronavirus crisis.

Reporting by Laura Gottesdiener in Monterrey and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Oliver Griffin in Bogota; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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