Why things are looking up for James Hardie Industries plc shares

Shares in fibre cement producer James Hardie Industries plc (ASX: JHX) are up 0.8% to $22.80 after a couple of days of falls, off the back of an investor roadshow presentation.

The $9.99 billion market cap company retains its title as a world leader in fibre cement, with a 77% share of the North American market and 23% of the overall international market.

James Hardie reported annual net sales of US$2.1 billion, total assets of US$2.4 billion and strong operational cash generation.

The update reaffirmed the company’s focus on research and development, detailing US$27.8 million was spent on research and development in FY18, with US$521.7 million spent in the segment since 2000.

The report also included information on the company’s Fermacell acquisition, which has increased James Hardie’s presence in Europe by an additional 830 employees and 5 manufacturing facilities.

The building materials segment has been going well of late, with CSR Limited (ASX: CSR) shares up 2% to $5.08 at the time of writing and clay producer Brickworks Limited (ASX: BKW) also booking gains at $15.86 after 12 months of share price rises.

But a slowdown in the housing market could cause the sector to take a hit, and investors should be prudent in their approach to these stocks.

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Motley Fool contributor Carin Pickworth has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Brickworks. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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