James Hardie posts profit

James Hardie Industries, the Netherlands-based manufacturer of fiber cement and construction backboard, reported second-quarter sales of $341.9 million, a 12 percent drop over sales of $390 million in the same period last year. Net profit for the second quarter, which ended Sept. 30, 2008, was $36.2 million, excluding asbestos-related expenses and pay-outs. This figure reflected a 36 percent decline over profits of $49.2 million a year ago.

Earlier this month, the company announced the temporary closing of two production facilities, in Fontana, Calif., and Summerville, S.C., due to continued declines in U.S. housing starts. The market for renovations and repairs has also slowed, the company said in a statement.   

Last year, James Hardie agreed to pay $3.3 billion to an asbestos compensation fund over the next 40 years.